Customer Review

6 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Chewing gum for the ears, 16 Dec 2013
This review is from: Rival Dealer EP (Audio CD)
Since his universally acclaimed first two albums, Burial has established himself as one of the most cutting edge producers in London's fertile electronic music scene. With sly beats and diced samples, he created a unique sonic palate that was envied by many. Since the landmark release of Untrue in 2007, he has diverged into more experimental territory, including collaborations with Four Tet and Thom Yorke and the excellent Kindred EP, which showcased longer, meandering tracks. He made a rare mis-step with Truant/Rough Sleeper, but as the hype built around the release of this EP, the whispers said that Burial was back. As such a famed producer (despite his careful anonymity), many were excited to hear what new directions he was moving in. I was one of them. Then I listened to the EP.

It is not fair to judge Rival Dealer on conventional terms. This is not a piece of music - it is an artistic joke, a piece of postmodern commentary on the state of the music industry. Aware of his own success, Burial wished to explore the effects of this on how others perceive his music. From his distaste for the spotlight, it is fair to infer that his main focus is not on fame or success but simply on making music that he enjoys. I applaud this attitude wholeheartedly. By releasing a truly abysmal EP, Burial was testing the reactions of the media and public. Given his acclaimed past, would they pretend to like it despite its obvious deficiencies?

The artistic question has been answered and the performance was an undoubted success. Burial has beaten us all again, proving the ultimate shallowness of the music world. But what about the actual music? This is where the problems start. While I can appreciate performance and conceptual art, I have a relatively traditional view of aesthetics. In other words, I can enjoy ideas but I would prefer to see or hear something that excites my senses. This EP singularly failed to do anything to my ears other than to make them despair for themselves. The opening song is passable I suppose, but its rhythms are distinctly lacking in the invention Burial always brought to his music. Worst of all, it is littered with haphazard vocal samples which incongruously tread on the music, ruining it. The album becomes worse. The second track is so bad I fear I may need major psychological interventions to help me purge its horrors from my mind. Its entire raison d'etre appears to be as a commentary on the prevalence of disingenuous fads which fetishise the past while still mocking it. It achieves this through the use of vomit-inducingly tacky drums that are drenched in 1980s cliches. I initially found this song quite funny but I was soon feeling depressed at how a creative talent like Burial could sink so low.

But at least it was short. The worst horror of all awaited: a thirteen-minute stretch of endless blandness, a song which makes the listener feel as though they are trapped in Hell with a bad Radio 1 DJ who only ever plays cheap, autotuned American 'R&B' 'music'. This track tested my patience and my sanity more than anything else. Waits in airports and rainy childhood days stuck in damp caravans seemed like pleasurable ways to spend time by comparison, and much shorter too.

With Rival Dealer, Burial has certainly taken his music to a new level - lower than the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. At least this EP will be the gold standard for something - Guantanamo Bay torture. If given a choice, I would prefer the endless white noise option! Anything is better than the living Hell that is listening to this EP. Rival Dealer is one of the worst half hours of music I have ever been unfortunate enough to hear.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Dec 2013 23:32:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Dec 2013 04:14:38 GMT
"He made a rare mis-step with Truant/Rough Sleeper"

I have to disagree. "Truant" is perhaps too disjointed and sketch-like to make a lasting impression but "Rough Sleeper" is gorgeous; the synth-drenched mid-section with quavering vocals that sing "there is a light surrounding you" still gives me goosebumps and has become one of my favourite moments in music.

It's hard for me to argue that the "Rival Dealer" EP is anything less than saccharine at certain points, and yet I enjoy it as much as I enjoyed "Untrue" or his "Kindred" EP. The FM-radio style production may be divisive, but it's sincere. Your review lapses into hyperbole quite often, especially when you say that "This is not a piece of music - it is an artistic joke, a piece of postmodern commentary on the state of the music industry."

Has it occurred to you that Burial simply isn't interested in the intellectualisation of his music? You clearly despise his latest work, but don't fool yourself into thinking that its creation is part of some premeditated plan to rankle folk. Different strokes and all that...

Posted on 18 Dec 2013 10:04:04 GMT
icelandian says:
Yeah it really sounds like he did it as an 'artistic joke' :

"I put my heart into the new EP, I hope someone likes it. I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves, to not be afraid, and to not give up, and to know that someone out there cares and is looking out for them. So it's like an angel's spell to protect them against the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubts."

Posted on 28 Feb 2014 17:51:12 GMT
P. A. Barnes says:
this review is hialrious - the poor soul knows nothing about music

Posted on 29 Jun 2014 18:47:18 BDT
Scrunts666 says:
I have just finished listening to the EP and I cannot understand what this person is talking about. Check it out on Youtube and decide for yourself is all I can say.

Posted on 29 Aug 2014 09:43:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Aug 2014 10:11:23 BDT
OK, I think I can see what is going on here. Ryan is a jumped up, pretentious English graduate (the softest of degrees) who is trying to get some attention. You really shouldn't be too concerned about his review; this is much more about Ryan than about Burial. Perhaps one day, when Ryan grows up and becomes aware of his over inflated sense of self importance, he will realise what a silly little boy he has been. Really Ryan, do you think you know better than the critics at NME, Pitchfork and XLR8R? So where are you working these days?
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