How could Burial properly follow an album like Untrue? That 2007 LP has practically become a sacred tome, and not only for dubstep, but the whole of electronic music. The adoration and respect that fans and critics have awarded to Burial since Hyperdub released his second full-length has put him in a bit of a pickle; if he turns out more of those desolate soundscapes and rickety beats, he'll be called a one-trick pony, but if he changes too much, he runs the risk of alienating those who treat his music like a religion.
This isn't to say that Burial cares one way or the other how his music is received or perceived, as the man clearly operates on his own terms. After a stretch of years that saw him release only a small handful of collaborative tracks with the likes of Four Tet and Thom Yorke, the producer finally returned with the Street Halo EP in 2011. The new solo material showed that Burial was very much sticking to his patented sound, but not without making a few subtle tweaks. Now, with the arrival of the Kindred EP, the dubstep diety has delivered three more original productions that further solidify the notion that he'll never stray too far from Untrue, and it's probably the best decision he could've made.
"Kindred" opens Burial's new 12" with a grey and stormy sound world inhabited by a sole clattering rhythm, a broken vocal melody on par with the likes of "Fostercare" and "Ghost Hardware," and a couple of synths that effortlessly move the song between bouts of desperation and hope. It's nearly 12 minutes long, so there's plenty of room for the disappearing act that each of these elements executes to have a meaningful sonic impact; when Burial's ominous bassline and tender vocal samples crawl out from under the muck of vinyl crackle and reverb, it sounds like he's summoning his music back to life. Closing tune "Ashtray Wasp" is very similar, as it's another lengthy production that takes liberties with its generous amount of space, although Burial uses the song to apply those ideas to something more closely resembling house music—with better results, too. Taking into account the gorgeous twist that arrives just after the seven-and-a-half-minute mark, "Ashtray Wasp" is certainly the best cut on the record.
Throughout the Kindred EP, Burial seems curious to discover the perfect balance between gritty atmospheres and dusk-lit club music. The melodically driven "Loner" is also an uptempo number, and is quite possibly the artist's most dancefloor-appropriate work to date. It's evidence of a whole new side of Burial's sound, one that he's only recently begun sharing with the world, and might just be the place he's headed on the next LP, assuming it ever arrives. But if that winds up being the case, Burial could very well solve the paradox his fans have created for him.