Burial made two albums for Hyperdub, his self-titled debut and 2007’s ‘Untrue’. These two records defined music, at least in the London-then-beyond bass scene he was a part of – so much so it’s hard to imagine a time when an anonymous producer making fuzzy, melancholic garage was a radical proposition. But radical it was, these two albums, alongside his wonderful EPs for the label, have simply never been bettered.
Now, his new EP is streaming over on the Hyperdub site. Kindred and Ashtray Wasp are both terrific tunes, of course, but it’s middle track Loner that points out an interesting new direction. More overtly dance-y than anything since Night Train yet more hardnosed than anything he’s made, it still shows off Burial’s two most crucial, if underrated gifts – his ability to make his drums work with the emotive delicacy of melodies, and make his melodies work with the rhythmic groove of his drums.
It’s also totally new. Arrestingly, it reminds me of the romantic moderns argument – that the native avant garde of London takes its modernism with a little melody, that the futuristic artists of this country almost always have their head in the clouds, whether halfway up a Lake District hill or scanning for pirate radio transmissions. Loner, is an interesting name. As a track, it shows that Burial really is in a field of one in modern music. But it also is the moment we have to count him in the company of the greatest of artists working in any discipline.