- A blissful split between two pillars of London dance music.
- "You will carry a message of peace and unity to the farthest reaches of the universe," says a voice at the very end of "Space Cadet," the closing track of Burial and Blackdown's new EP. Following a rush of candy-sweet arpeggios and gilded glissandos, it sounds like a quest being passed down to Burial, whose music has grown increasingly hopeful since 2013's touching "Come Down To Us." With each new release Burial's songs have become more fragmented, daring and loved-up, culminating in last year's "Chemz, a rush of a track that is among Burial's most breathless and and blissful. The journey continues on Shock Power Of Love, which finds Burial on Keysound with his old pal Blackdown, who he remixed in 2006. Back then, Burial's music evoked shadowy back alleys and empty city streets. Now it feels universal and soaring, a beam of love meant for anyone and everyone.
Both Burial tracks, running ten minutes each, could become future classics: "Space Cadet" is the one that takes after "Chemz," with its luminous glow and sudden transition into heavier, dark garage beats. But "Dark Gethsemane" feels like the big deal track here. It has a loping garage beat and classic chipmunk vocals, but also a grand, almost devotional approach. There's a tinge of religiosity to it, from the stately chord progression to the Biblical reference of the title—the garden where Jesus was arrested before his crucifixion—to the gospel-ish breakdown followed by a fiery preacher sample that echoes throughout its second half: "We must shock this nation with the power of love!"
Burial is happy to mix the angelic with the earthly, as we hear when he interrupts the elegant first section of the track with a sexy, surging bassline, goofy vinyl scratches and even the loon sample, one of rave music's most ubiquitous and enduring sounds. It's like a hymn meant for the nightclub deep in the hours of the night, a different kind of communal experience. Like all of Burial's music, "Dark Gethsemane" is a web of references and samples, but it feels outgoing and joyful where it could once feel withdrawn and lonely. With lines like "You're the only one they're afraid of," "we must discover the power of love" and "the power to create a new world," "Dark Gethsemane" sounds like Burial is leading a rag-tag band of misfits and freaks to fix what ails the world. It's a lot to take in, but this epic brand of sentimentality has gradually seeped into his music over the past decade. It's not his most groundbreaking work, but it is his most uplifting.
Shock Power Of Love isn't just a remarkable Burial release, it's a triumph for Martin Clark, AKA Blackdown, too. Beyond the coup of getting Burial to appear on his Keysound label again, the two Blackdown tracks are among the best in his catalogue. The EP begins ferociously with "This Journey VIP," which is a refreshed version of the Keysound template, all rolling basslines, rambunctious drums and synth strings. And his remix of Heatmap's "Arklight" is a welcome surprise, too, sounding like Model 500 with its skippy strut and sci-fi synths, though a wobbling LFO underlines Blackdown's London roots. On Shock Power Of Love, two artists synonymous with the shadowy corners of London emerge with a brighter, more colourful style. It's a shock of sorts, sure, but all you have to do is go back to Burial's remix of "Crackle Blues" and see how far we've come, through thick and thin, to the ecstatic climax of "Space Cadet." Burial seems to have a different view on the human condition these days, and it's no less powerful.
01. Blackdown - The Journey VIP
02. Burial - Dark Gethsemane
03. Heatmap - Arklight (Blackdown Remix)
04. Burial - Space Cadet