Sunday, March 4, 2012


Burial and Four Tet

Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) just tweeted a link to "Nova," the latest collaboration between Burial and himself (this follows their previous collaborations "Moth" and "Wolf Cub" from 2009, and their work with Thom Yorke last year on "Ego" and "Mirror"). This is a treat, coming so soon after Burial released his Kindred EP, and at less than six minutes it feels like something of a counterbalance to its lengthy suites. "Nova" is, as you can imagine, wonderful, starting off like a half-remembered song from a dream, all disconnected snatches of vocals just beyond comprehension and far away glimmers of melody. I particularly love the stuttering chords and vocals over those Burial drums in the first half of the track, and when everything takes off in the second half after a brief lull, "Nova" goes to another level. Achingly melodic, the climax is like the best moments of both artists distilled to deceptively simple elements, what every imitator and detractor has clumsily attempted to grasp, but with an obvious level of mastery and craftsmanship that transcends well-worn sonic signifiers. The close, with its static and what sounds almost like whale noises (a Burial favourite), is pretty, if a little inconsequential, but at that point the heavy lifting has been done.

This track hits the sweet spot for a collaboration between these two in a way that none of their other tracks have quite matched, with the lushness of Four Tet's work offered a propulsive lift from those 2-step drums that Burial favours and the approach to the vocal meeting somewhere in the middle. Both "Moth" and "Wolf Club" had moments of brilliant, but they felt stitched together, the boundaries between the two artists too clear to work as anything more than a Four Tet track added to a Burial track or vice versa. Here, though, there's a give and take that suggests two artists who are comfortable with each other and able to push each other into new territory. The idea of an album length collaboration between the two has become an increasingly tantalizing prospect over the course of their collaborative history, and this track really makes that seem like a masterpiece waiting to happen.

All in all, "Nova" is seriously, compulsively listenable and one of the best examples of  "glowing" music--as Burial has described the music he tries to make--I've ever heard. Indeed, this sounds more "glo-fi" than most of the chillwave stuff that got that tag a few years ago, bright and colourful in just the right way. Come December, I can see this fighting for track of the year. If it's any indication of what's to come on a new Four Tet album, the follow up to 2010's There is Love in You is going to be something special.

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