SCQ Rating: 79%
Last spring’s Street Halo was very much a victory lap. Brisk but powerful, it procured enough subtle tricks to warrant a pat on the back for progressive leanings but essentially cemented the same sound we’d all lost our shit over four years prior. That’s something worth celebrating, even in the wake of dubstep’s mainstream perversion; the convincing evidence that insists Burial remains the sole proprietor and executioner of such a gritty, bleak and yet beautiful palette of urban restlessness.
Barely a year on, the mysterious beat-constructor returns with another three-pronged EP of sprawling, nomadic dubstep and the results are equally breathless. Kindred EP expands upon its predecessor’s spacey dimensions – in such a way that Street Halo’s longest run-time in effect becomes this EP’s shortest – and that aural real estate affords weightier compositions. “Loner” breaks from Burial’s trademarked wood-block approach by instilling a comparatively simple drum-machine loop to feed a flurry of samples and morose-keyed momentum. “Ashtray Wasp” preserves that drive, with four-by-four beats thudding beneath a wide array of voices and murky instrumentation, but it’s the title track that really steals the show here. “Kindred”, besides incorporating some industrial noise to its edges, probably boasts Burial’s best use of vocal samples ever, creating an esoteric link of voices that form one devastating hook after another.
Burial’s wise enough to steer clear of laying down too much at a time but by occasionally stripping his compositions down to scratch, he occasionally risks dropping his audience into structure-less limbo. “Ashtray Wasp” takes that permanent detour, presumably as a means to avoid overwhelming listeners, and the track’s piano-led ending – a pale echo of its earlier force – ultimately deepens the artist’s craft (although perhaps at the expense of his fans’ expectations). No matter how you hear it, Kindred EP won’t resonate like another unexpected victory lap, instead presenting itself as a complicated evolution that nonetheless reasserts Burial’s reign over all things dubstep.