In what’s becoming an annual tradition, this December sees another last-minute release from the enigmatic, ambient dubstep artist known as Burial—a producer who prefers to remain hidden, likely so he doesn’t have to explain to people yet again that, no, “dubstep” doesn’t mean “wub wub” or “Skrillex.” Last year it was the Truant/Rough Sleeper EP; this year it’s Rival Dealer, which officially arrives in the U.S. on Dec. 16 via Hyperdub but is already streaming now.
Like Truant/Rough Sleeper, Rival Dealer is split into separate tracks, but each feels like the movements of one continuous piece—even more so here, as the snatches of dialogue suggest there’s some sort of narrative through-line about grappling with sexual identity. And while fans will recognize a lot of the elements that make it unmistakably Burial—those haunted soul vocal samples, that rippling firecracker sound—both “Hiders” and “Come Down To Us” bring in new snatches of ’80s synth-pop and Eastern raga timbres. All in all, it’s another reminder that Burial remains one of the most inventive, emotionally resonant electronic musicians around, and a guy who’s always guaranteed to make people like me revise their end-of-year lists.
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