by Cameron Seibold
UK electronic artist Burial has once again pulled off a surprise release, straying from his home label Hyperdub and releasing a single track on UK label Keysound Recordings with virtually no warning or promotion.
The surprise release is par for the course as the underground artist (real name Will Bevan) stays entirely out of the spotlight, with no social media presence and very few interviews or photos. “Temple Sleeper” is stylistically as much a surprise as the release of the track itself.
It seems as though Bevan is playing more into the rave culture nostalgia he is known for, although this time it’s set in an entirely different, more upbeat arena of rave music.
It takes only 20 seconds for the track to reveal what direction Burial is taking his sound this time around. An up-tempo garage beat accompanied by rising, melancholic trance arpeggios blasts the listener into an almost over-the-top, uplifting loop with all of Burial’s trademark pitched vocal cuts, static bursts and ambient noise building the quiet narrative of raves long past. The stylistic shift occurring in “Temple Sleeper” lies in the faster tempo, brighter atmosphere and more blatant recycling of ‘90s rave motifs.
Post “Untrue” (Burial’s sophomore LP released in 2007), Burial’s format changed from completely individual tracks contained within an album to longer format tracks containing multiple musical ideas reminiscent of the way a DJ transitions from track to track in a mix, but with more ambience in between. Roughly four minutes into this new release, one of these trademark Burial switches in style is executed, transitioning the track from trance to breakbeat.
The high energy break, vocal samples (“COME ON!”), and plucky bass lines are all reminiscent of the 1999 film “The Matrix” (specifically the bank raid scene). This is appropriate considering Burial has included ambient samples from the dystopian flick in his compositions in the past.
I’ve always gotten a Matrix vibe from Burial’s music in general due to the rainy, isolated, late night feeling the film and his music share; it’s interesting to hear the influence in a completely different and energized way. Unfortunately, the section only lasts roughly a minute before breaking into yet another musical concept.
The third and final section of the track is similar to the first, again utilizing an uptempo garage beat and ‘90s rave elements like arpeggiated synth lines and pitched-up vocals that border on corny.
As a long-time fan of Burial, “Temple Sleeper” is an unexpected and welcome change of pace. It’s exciting to hear Bevan exploring other realms of the underground while still retaining his voice and the core elements that make him unique and innovative.
I personally can’t wait to see where these new ideas are leading the enigmatic electronic artist.