A Short Review of “Rival Dealer”

(Originally published at Unwinnable.com)

Released Dec. 2013. Label: Hyperdub

The acquisition of grace is a theme that gets bandied about a lot with Burial, the mysterious atmospheric-dubby-electronic-house musician from England. But Rival Dealer changes that perception by expanding its reach beyond cataloging urban desiccation and those who emerge from it. The album, which still sounds like the radio station you would make of your life while walking through a vaguely-populated urban area on a wet night night, is boosted by impactful uses of negative space and ambient sounds. Moments will take time to bubble up from quietude, or loiter around instead of immediately kicking into gear.

In other words, the felt moments of frigid inconsequentiality are still very much here. Like the time someone describes a moment as “pregnant” right after you’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby, the hushed moments seem maximally eerie. But they’re lifted this time around – most notably in standout track “Come Down to Us” – by breakthroughs of ebullient 2-step, like it came from a forgotten song from the 80s that was found and inserted. These soaring moments, combined with samples and speeches dealing with identity and belief in oneself (including one by Lana Wachowski), posit a world where grace isn’t earned – it was already always there, just waiting to be discovered and nurtured.

Length: 29:05

Track Listing:

“Rival Dealer” – 10:47

“Hiders” – 4:44

“Come Down to Us” – 13:08

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