Without warning, enigmatic UK producer, Burial, has released two new songs, “Subtemple” and “Beachfires.” The Subtemple EP is currently available to stream, and a 10-inch vinyl will drop on May 26 via Hyperdub Records.
Subtemple‘s title track starts off the EP like a normal Burial record: vinyl crackle popping like a burned-out fire, layers of faraway ambience droning, and chopped vocal samples fighting to be heard beneath layers of echo effects. But something is different. The menacing ambience is shockingly minimal, and it stays that way throughout the entire track. No drums kick in at any point; there’s not even a discernible bass line or melody to anchor the track. It’s just pure space. At one point in the song, a creepy piano line repeats like waiting room music from a bad dream, but it’s so quiet and buried beneath disturbing sounds that it never has a chance to define the track’s direction.
“Beachfires” is not unlike “Subtemple” in regards to its amorphous structure. Ominous melodic sounds wash beneath reverb-blurred filters, as muted bells chime in the distance. In a way, it sounds as if you took a normal Burial song, removed the drums & vocals, isolated just a few spacey sounds, and then played it underwater. “Beach Fires” offers a bit more intensity than the former track, but there’s no doubt that Subtemple is Burial’s most minimal and ambient release to date.
Last November, Burial released Young Death / Nightmarket — an undisciplined two-track EP that felt like normal Burial songs without the normal Burial catharsis. More recently, he remixed Goldie’s 1995 song, “Inner City Life,” for Record Store Day.
Fans of the mysterious producer are still waiting for the highly-anticipated follow-up album to 2006’s Untrue. Over a decade later, it’s hard to imagine that Burial will ever deliver the full-length LP so many fans are dying to hear. For now, it seems we should just cherish these small projects he decides to release every once in awhile.