So… for his first tweet in over five years, yesterday Burial admitted that “My Rival Dealer release is probably my worst, but I know you guys will love it”. Something I found very interesting, especially as he quickly deleted it only a couple of minutes later.
It comes after the digital version of his groundbreaking ‘Rival Dealer‘ EP was released yesterday, featuring one raving beastly title-track and two distinctly different sounds for the anonymous lord. But being dubbed by FACT as “his best work since ‘Untrue'”, does the isolated producer actually think the EP is the worst he’s ever done?
He released ‘Traunt / Rough Sleeper’ on Hyperdub about this time last year, which followed two outstanding albums in 2006 and 2007 – and yes, some heads would certainly deem 2013’s offering as his least-inspiring yet because of the critical acclaim of his previous releases, coupled with the fact that some points of the EP sound like a 33 spinning at 45. But the mysterious legend of Will Bevan’s signature sounds still live on in ‘Rival Dealer’, albeit in a different light: there’s still those crackles, the rain, the start-stop segmenting, the fades, the sudden changes at the end of the (extremely long) tracks and the background atmosphere surrounding all three tunes. There’s still the vinyl crackle to cover up mistakes, there’s still the sound of him doing everything by hand; how even the beats aren’t properly looped or synchronised. He’s previously said that in his music everything is “wrong”, and that’s part of the appeal. Structurally, ‘Rival Dealer’ not that different to what he’s done before.
Does his tweet, therefore, perhaps accept that he went more commercial this time round – note the cheesy synths and prefab beats on ‘Come Down To Us’ – by acknowledging that “I know you guys will love it”? Or is he legitimately conceding to the fact that he probably won’t be able to top the game-changing uniques of ‘Untrue’ and his self-titled LP.
Or, ambitious as this sounds, is he testing people in a similar fashion to Banksy, who recently set up a stall in Central Park manned by an elderly fellow, which attracted only three customers over the course of a day despite selling $60 authentic versions of Banksy’s signature works? Of course, everybody thought they were fakes, despite having the opportunity to own a $600,000 piece of art for under $100. Banksy said that he was growing tired of his worshipped following – getting sick of people admiring him for what was ‘just’ art; after all, people were only willing to pay $60 for it. And just like Burial, Banksy is anonymous, and just like Banksy, maybe Will Bevan is testing the true fans compared with newcomers who prefer the 80’s pop-influenced ‘Hider’ over the title-track – a tune that I originally thought was a troll when contrasted against his older material.
He’s always been about the music; he’s never been about the hype, money, popularity or fame, the festival headliners or DJ sets at all. He’s rarely done interviews and has only ever released albums on Hyperdub, and before March this year he hadn’t updated his Facebook since 2008. He doesn’t have Instagram, and as you can see below, hadn’t touched his Twitter since 2008 either. Similarly, with the EP strongly in support of gay and transgender rights, an end to bigotry and to all who feel “lost” or “truant”, “sleeping rough” or “homeless”, Burial hides a lot of meaning behind the tunes, just like his Tweet. At the end of the third song, ‘Come Down To Us’, the part of Lana Wachowski’s speech about “this world that we imagine… might be used to gain access to other rooms, to other worlds previously unimaginable”, is what the EP is about – “come on in, out of the cold”.
So his Tweet might’ve just been him accepting the criticism given to him for ‘Rival Dealer’, but I think it goes deeper than that – especially since he deleted it straight away. It’s almost as if he’s teasing his followers for a glimpse into Burial; after all, only a very select few in the industry have ever had a chance to speak to him.
On the other hand, I might just be looking into this way too hard.