Published Dec 05, 2019Two-and-a-half-hour compilation Tunes 2011-2019 works its way backwards through the last decade of Burial's output, but like many of the producer's post-Untrue undertakings, it generally resists neat and tidy execution.
It's not a comprehensive collection, and only contains materials released through Hyperdub, so none of his collaborative efforts make the cut and there's still a "Rodent"-sized hole. But the compilation handles the majority of the last decade's EPs and twelve-inch releases, the first disc opening on the rhythmless wide angle glory of this year's "State Forest" before drifting into 2017's shimmering Subtemple / Beachfires drones, building toward 2013's Rival Dealer with the drizzly house and R&B gestures from 2016's Young Death / Nightmarket. The producer generally presents these releases in blocked chunks, but records echo through each other, and often come in out of order, "Claustro" dropping into the Rival Dealer section so this year's Claustro / State Forest twelve-inch nearly brackets the first disc before the alone-in-a-crowd rave vibes of the older EP's massive title track can steal the glory.
This is the most liberal Burial gets with the track sequencing, but it's also savvy curation that highlights the producer's recent return to the clubbier energies that haunted his earlier recordings like angelic ghosts, simultaneously lubricating the tempo disparities between Rival Dealer's dreamier B-sides and the main event, while landing on a banger before disc two launches into a linear presentation of 2012's Kindred EP and its neon EDM residue.
While the first disc emphasizes this departure from rhythmic sensibilities, the second highlights how desperate earlier Burial was to find ones that made sense, swirling and shifting restlessly between 2-step, jungle, dubstep, and garage while reaching out to similarly disconnected listeners with consoling messages formed by sliced up vocal samples, track titles populated with creatures that are lost and out of place: "Loner," "Ashtray Wasp," "Rough Sleeper," "Truant" and "Stolen Dog." That the record opens on "State Forest" and terminates on the lonely pulse of Street Halo's "NYC" is surely no coincidence either. As Tunes continues to distance itself from the reclusive tones of recent years, it ventures further into the urban wastelands of the project's past; perhaps Burial is ready to go back, too. (Hyperdub)