After Kindred, it was clear that reclusive producer Burial was reaching for the next plateau. Like those tracks, Truant and Rough Sleeper both clock in at around 12 minutes; each one containing several distinct movements.
Truant begins with narcotic, static-laden 2-step, before abruptly breaking into a more bass-led, darker, dub techno-edged sound. Vocals pitch in and out of the tense, claustrophobic mix – this is more lo-fi, twisted territory than Burial has ever explored before, with a mid-song breakdown that sounds like early Prodigy synth-stabs recorded onto hissing ferrous tape and listened to through a cough-syrup haze.
Rough Sleeper begins with hushed reverence, breaking into minimal 2-step with gorgeous, soulful vocals hidden in amongst the ever-present static. It's indescribably lush – at once melancholic, and more uplifting than anything in Burial's prior output. The second movement is even more unfamiliar territory – an ascending, major-chord melody, house rhythms and breathy male vocals produce perhaps the most mellow, transcendent mood of the EP, evoking rain-slick streets caught in a burst of sunlight as the clouds briefly part – a revelatory moment of light.
Defiantly uncommercial, pushing notions of EP and album to the side in favour of creating immersive, beautifully-realised sonic sculpture, and released with little fanfare or effort to court the press, Truant / Rough Sleeper continues to display Burial's mature, consistently exciting and challenging output, post-Untrue. [Bram E Gieben]