Few individuals can claim to have been of such crucial importance to 21st century music as William Bevan, better known as the inimitable and enigmatic Burial. His sophomore album Untrue was named Album of the Decade by multiple publications, and earned the producer a Mercury Prize nomination despite his remaining anonymous until months after its release. Revered as the single most vital moment in dubstep’s short history, Untrue spawned legions of imitators who, without exception, ultimately failed to advance music further than the frontier Burial had explored. The ability to form a perfect synergy between rhythm, mood and voice in such a ghostly, crystalline manner remained and remains solely his.
Throughout his career, Burial has stood curiously apart from the musical landscape he himself is responsible for shaping. From the anonymity of his early years to the paucity of his recent work, he has always been someone who seemed unwilling to wallow in the glory of his creation, preferring instead to study from a safe distance as the scene unfurled. What scant material he has made available since 2007’s Untrue has been exquisite, but until now it has carefully toed the line of delicate, fog-drenched garage, exhibiting many of the virtues present in his earlier work. Kindred is a different animal. While it may not be the third album so thirsted after by many of his admirers, its three tracks provide evidence of a master evolving his craft.
Kindred is the first in a pair of 11-minute epics, themselves something of a departure for a producer associated with minimalism and intimacy. The clockwork drums and translucent vocals are unmistakably Burial, but there is more dynamism and urgency here than on anything else he has ever produced. The bass shudders under layers of static as the atmosphere shifts and veers, never quite standing still. Loner follows, as 4/4 a track as Burial is capable of, incessant murky arpeggios gleaming dully through a thick haze of misty percussion. Ashtray Wasp closes proceedings by borrowing elements from both of its bedfellows, fusing the morose twinkling of Loner’s synths with the extended length, sunken bass tremblings and grainy ambience of Kindred.