Review: The Kindred EP by Burial
Burial presents another cinematic masterpiece.
You pick up a dusty brown photo album, maybe it is from your childhood or your wedding, and you start flipping through the pages. Photos of all different sizes—some are Polaroids, some are professionally taken—are pasted onto the flat white pages, each moment with it’s own section. The people in the photos are posing in some, others are candid, but each page of memories spells out a scene from your life—a time, or place, or event that was worth documenting even if it didn’t seem so at the moment. They are all happy scenes because nobody saves pain in a photo album. Nobody takes photos at a funeral.
The painful memories in life exist somewhere, are saved inside of us all, but they aren’t meant to be revisited on film. Burial saves these moments sonically. His aural photo album is the Kindred EP. As inferred from the title, the Kindred EP is about relationships. The relationships one has with family and friends but also the relationship one has with oneself. The moments when you find yourself alone, desperate, pleading but persevering, starring at the light at the end of the tunnel but still too far to reach it. This is what Burial has always stood for, and continues to stand for from the first sounds of this EP’s opening track, “Kindred.” As the track crackles into existence, one of Burial’s divas distantly cries out before she’s washed away by a marching, breaking dub beat and a static-y bassline. Morphing between male and female, the voice is a reassuring one as the background crumbles around it. The bass flickers and transforms the scene, but the voice stays resolute. At around four minutes and 15 seconds into the 11 minute and 26 second track, the movement ends with the crackling of a waiting turntable, or the crunching page of an old book, or a corrupted transition on celluloid. The page is turned; a theme found throughout the record. The page of this sonic photo album turns again at around eight minutes, and the third act of “Kindred” begins with a warped fade-out of clacking beats and wooshing winds that dissolves into another round of distant pleas from his pocketful of soulful divas.
“There is something out there,” a man warns at the start of the EP’s second track, “Loner.” A 130bpm pop beat comes in surrounded by an orchestra of muted, bowed basses, which builds up to a four to the floor kick-drum beat, and yet another turn of the page. The next movement begins again with a newfound, cyclical synthesizer melody and a ghostly internal voice, which seems to be haunting the mind of the subject. The small voice is heard pleading ”set me free” as the synthesizer ramps up to a peak before rolling gradually to a standstill, but not before navigating through several newly introduced, repetitive melodies.
The record’s final, and longest track at 11 minutes and 45 seconds, “Ashtray Wasp” begins with a familiar creaking sound. That same sound can be heard on “Endorphine,” which appears in the middle of his groundbreaking album, Untrue. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Kindred or “Ash Tray Wasp” is some kind of continuation of Untrue though. It just means that Burial takes all of his sepia-toned sonic photos with the same camera. His trusted, meticulously created palette of sounds comes with him from record to record.
“I want you” a soft but demanding, highly reverberated voice says while another clearer voice remembers; “I used to belong to you,” as “Ashtray Wasp” pushes forward. With a driving rhythm the song swerves and builds in tension until a break at around four minutes and 20 seconds in. The sound builds back up with a spark of resolution, which spills into swirling and waving synthesizer tones that finally give way to a third movement. The final section of the record begins with a series of competing sounds: a child’s cry, interrupting wooshes of static, and a pulsating bass drum. A gentle piano slowly makes itself known as chiming bell-like tones ring in broken rhythm as the record cautiously eases into oblivion for the final minute.
As expected from Burial, he’s presented another cinematic masterpiece, this time in a slightly different format than his last two, more track oriented releases: Untrue and the brief Street Halo EP. Kindred feels more like one solid, half hour long idea, one experience; like a lonely, unwanted trip mysteriously caught on film, or a night of savage depression spent with the covers thrown over your head. Though the album can take an emotional toll, it’s some of Burial’s best work and deserves a spot on the bookshelf next to the dubstep prodigy’s previous groundbreaking albums. —cory perla