Kode9 / Burial

Infirmary / Unknown Summer

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Available on 140 gram limited edition clear 12" wax split

Five years after Hyperdub boss Kode9 and label mainstay Burial mixed the 100th and final edition of the Fabriclive mix series, the two visionaries shared a split single on the London club's Fabric Originals imprint. Kode9's "Infirmary" seems to continue in the direction of his brilliant 2021 single "The Jackpot," a tense, intricately detailed mutation of footwork, trap, and U.K. bass. "Infirmary" similarly plays with tension and release, looping and reversing reflective pianos and vocal fragments over a stuttering rhythm before filtering in jazz samples and Amen breakbeats. A few different basslines boom out of the speakers, including some that seem inspired by amapiano log drums. Any time the track feels like it's relaxing into a groove, it switches up and gets more exciting. Burial's "Unknown Summer," in comparison, lacks the adrenaline of Kode9's track, but it's just as stunning in its own way. While the elusive artist has saved some of his most rave-inspired productions for singles, this one feels more appropriate for living room listening than club play. Somewhat in the same vein as his collaborations with Four Tet, the beat consists of a minimal, low-key shuffle, while muted chords shiver on top. Stretched choral vocals and flickers of saxophone emerge, while the usual vinyl crackle coats everything. A child reflects on being alone, surrounded by nothing but clear blue sky and enjoying the peace and quiet. After a moment of heavenly grace, the beat bumps back in, and vocal phrases ("put your arms around me") jarringly cut in like memories that pop up unexpectedly. The feeling lingers somewhere in between bittersweet longing and tranquil relief, but a brief bit at the end of the song is surprisingly bright and bubbly, with a pitched-up "in the sun" being the only audible lyric. The track suggests that Burial prefers to spend his summer finding peace in a secluded nature area instead of partying and seeking thrills. 

- Paul Simpson