For some reason that i have yet to fathom, the British feel it is necessary to totally re-invent electronic music every couple of years or so. And each time, they come up with a new name for it. And each time, there are either all new artists doing that style, or older artists who feel that they have to come up with a brand new name (which is why Richard D. James is Aphex Twin, Polygon Window, AFX, etc.)
As someone on the US side of the pond who only hears the music that filters to the top, i find this terribly confusing. Many of the conventions of the different "genres" seem like mild stylistic tweaks to me. Take as an example the current hot style, dubstep. Dubstep takes the cut and paste mentality of IDM and makes it even more stuttering. It really seems like the only difference is that the dubstep artists use a lot more silent gaps between their various beats and are not as fond of the sound of static.
Which brings us to Burial. Burial is the wünderkind of the dubstep scene, a mysterious DJ who makes eclectic, stuttering tunes with the herky-jerky rhythms that seem all the rage in the UK this week. And he does it well too – i have found Burial's music to be engaging, if somehow melancholy, especially in the keyboard/synthesizer melodies, which carry a meandering sadness that complements his beats rather nicely.
Here is a 12" collaboration between Burial and older electronic musician Four Tet. I dunno which specific "genre" Four Tet is associated with – "last Tuesday" for all i know. He has been around a few years, and i have enjoyed his music. Four Tet's electronica is typified by lush keyboards and strong rhythms.
So how do these two artists sound when collaborating? Really, really good. There are two tracks here for a total of about 18 minutes, so let me go over each.
The A-side is called Moth, and here it seems to me that Four Tet drives the melodic portion of the collaboration while Burial provides the rhythm. It works really well, with lush tones backed by a stuttering dubstep rhythm. It is head-nodding fun with big echoing beats.
On the B-side, Wolf Cub, it seems as if their roles are reversed. The rhythms seem more like Four Tet to me, while the melodies that ride overtop the rhythm are melancholy in that Burial manner. Burial's sad soaring drones work really well with Four Tet's vaguely asian clattering percussion. Eventually the beats get more dubsteppy, and there is a subdued female voice, very much like what Burial was doing on Untrue. I like this slightly less than i like the A-side, but it is still a fascinating track.
Now, i have to admit that i have never seen a physical copy of this. I have heard that it is pretty hard to locate. I wonder if any copies even made it to this side of the pond? Well, in the Internet Era, that just means that one has to download a release. So should you? If you enjoy electronic, then i think this is pretty much the essential release of 2009. I would love to hear these two collaborate more.