- Arguably the most hyped release of the year so far, news of Burial and Four Tet's collaboration spread like wildfire through internet forums and blogs when it first appeared on record release sheets back in March. The first chance to pre-order the record also compounded excitement and anticipation, due to the announcement that there would be no cover art, no audio promos and no audio samples to attempt to judge if the record could live up to expectations.
First up is "Wolf Cub," which doesn't even seem to have any trace of the spectral garage producer until the beat crashes in more than two minutes into the track. Hebden slowly builds up a wall of chiming sounds, with melodic triplets sitting atop sustained bass tones and swooping eastern melodies before giving way to a tense but restrained synthetic arpeggio. It's at this point that things calm to near silence before the listener is ambushed by Burial's trademark 2-step percussion, with loose woodblocks and hi-hats taking a detour into darkness before the original elements are slowly teased back into the mix along with yet another Burial staple: the undecipherable affected vocal. Ardent Burial fans may be slightly disappointed that the beat—seemingly his main contribution to the track—is actually just cut straight from his unreleased "Archeron" track, but on the other hand it's a major nod to the Burial sound that his followers have come to know and love on the release, and will hence be the choice cut for dubstep DJs.
Whereas "Wolf Cub" sounds like it was cobbled together from parts sent back and forth between the two, you get the feeling that "Moth" is something that the duo sat down and produced together, and the results sound much more complete as a result. Loping along at a restrained 123bpm, the 2-step skip is still there but in a much more rigid form, as smooth melodic synths judder and swell throughout. The most obvious reference point for the prodding funky melody lines are the Kompakt and Border Community stables circa 2004, albeit with a slightly more refined touch. Things boil down to just the percussion halfway through, with subtle reverb added to the kick and a plinky arpeggio, but when the melody returns (this time accompanied with another affected vocal), it marks a moment of real emotive impact—one that should have just as much clout as an end of night anthem in the club as it will riding the night bus home with the sun peeking over the horizon.
Word has it that the two producers are planning on releasing more material together, so if my assumptions are correct, it seems like a more interactive collaborative approach will yield even better results going forward.
B Wolf Cub