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Burial, Four Tet & Thom Yorke - "Ego" / "Mirror"

Burial, Four Tet & Thom Yorke

"Ego" / "Mirror"

[Text; 2011]

By ; April 11, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

In a roundabout way Burial, Four Tet and Thom Yorke have been interwoven for some time now. Burial and Four Tet have teamed together in the past, remixed Yorke’s solo work individually, and as Radiohead’s frontman has fallen deeper and deeper in love with experimental electronic music, he’s made a regular habit of slipping tracks from both artists into his sporadic guest DJ appearances. But now, with a 12″ split featuring two new tracks called “Ego” and “Mirror,” faintly crossing paths has turned into a full-on union of leviathan proportions.

The two song split vinyl, catalogued and known only as TEXT010 (it’s out on Kieran Hebdan’s Text imprint, after all), is such a big deal that its limited run sold out within minutes of being announced. Then when “Ego” and “Mirror” finally debuted on Rinse FM, only some fans were able to hear it because the site’s servers were so overwhelmed with traffic that they crashed.

“Ego,” the split’s a-side, begins with a fairly standard issue bass-driven beat served up with that classic raspy vinyl aesthetic. Yorke’s vocals linger in the background of the song’s intro, more used to establish environment than drive home any significant points. As the song progresses though, his voice becomes even more prevalent — he’s as much a centerpiece here as he is on any Radiohead track. The beat also starts to shuffle, with synths flickering in and out, distorted zaps and buzzes thrown into the mix, and subtle build-ups and climaxes scattered throughout. Every now and then come waves of heavy sound, like the baritone hum of a monolithic monster’s roar, giving the song a dark texture and masking the fact that this is dance floor dubstep at its core.

As good as the first track is, the second one is even better. “Mirror” has all the standard dubstep sheen that you’d expect from a Burial and Four Tet collaboration, but with Yorke’s ethereal vocals layered on top the result is something far more romantic. Hearing his voice echo and bounce off the crispy percussion and stuttering synths tucked neatly into the background isn’t just highly addictive, but hauntingly tense and sexual. Yorke’s hum of “time is cyclical” on this track even harkens back a little bit to his time-obsessed contributions on Modeselektor’s “The White Flash.” For all the strength of “Ego,” it’s the second track that excavates the deepest.

Rarely do dream teams like this actually function. We’re all familiar with the vast fallacies of the supposed supergroup. But on these two sublime tracks, Burial, Four Tet, and Yorke have truly shattered all pretense. They’ve also proved that when left to the devices of the very best, dubstep as a genre still has plenty of blood pumping through its veins.


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