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Reclusive electronic music producer Burial broke his media silence to introduce the three tracks on his new EP Rival Dealer as “anti-bullying tunes”, like “an angel’s spell” to protect sufferers against “the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubts”. It opens with the 11-minute title track, the sound of pouring rain and dusty vinyl evoking a characteristically noir Burial setting.
But a hardcore rave breakbeat yanks the track in a wholly different direction, sampled voices emerging from the aggressive clatter with tenuous statements of defiance (“This is who I am,” a girl declares), until the stunning passage of music collapses into an ambient heap.
Then the 30-minute EP takes a sentimental turn, first on “Hiders” with chiming keyboards and rote celestial effects, then on “Come Down to Us”, in which ghostly vocals and suggestive allusions to sexual identity gradually give way to mawkishly upbeat 1980s synths and a speech by Matrix film-maker Lana Wachowski about being transgender. But the mood of consolation is cloying. Rival Dealer’s intentions are brave but the results are uneven.