Burial/Four Tet: "Moth"/"Wolf Cub"

On the surface, Four Tet and Burial don't seem to have much in common. That's precisely what makes this enigmatic 12" single so rewarding.

Four Tet

"Moth"/"Wolf Cub"

Label: Text
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2009-05-01

Arriving as a black label 12" single bereft of any sort of labeling or text, the Four Tet/Burial split couldn't be any less conspicuous. Despite this fact, many are likely to seek it out, as it finds two of the U.K.'s most celebrated electronic artists -- shadowy dubstep prodigy Burial and folktronica mainstay Four Tet -- joining forces to produce one of the year's most-interesting collaborations. While the fruit of the two producers' labors is admittedly, less than surprising (close your eyes, imagine what it would sound like to listen to a Four Tet song and a Burial song simultaneously, and you're halfway there), these two tracks more than make up for its predictability with a depth and textural richness that's all-too rare in a world full of hastily cobbled-together collaborations.

"Moth", or at least the song that the blogosphere consensus seems to have decided is "Moth" (no labeling, remember?) sounds, for the most part, like a Four Tet remix of a Burial song. The beat hits like dull thuds in 4/4 time, plodding along steadily while a chopped-up, compressed synth ascends in the background. Soon, a Burial-esque female vocal wafts in, hanging like a veil over the twinkling tones that bubble up from below. The track builds slowly, as many Four Tet tracks do, reaching its apex just shy of the eight-minute mark before disassembling itself piece by piece, leaving only the sound of distant chimes at its close.

"Wolf Cub", meanwhile, sounds more like Burial remixing a Rounds-era Four Tet track. It opens with what sounds like a swirling sea of chopped-up harpsichord notes and shimmering-synth arpeggios soon get layered on top. At just past the two-and-a-half minute mark, everything quiets down, making way for the clickety-clack of Burial's trademark two-step beat. Eventually, it all comes together in a rich, heady mix: Dulcet tones whiz by at a breakneck pace; a hazy voice coos unintelligibly; and a synth line fills out the low-end. It's an ephemeral yet firmly rooted song, and a track that evokes whimsical fantasy as much as grimy realism.

While we have no way of knowing whether these tracks are remixes, joint compositions or something else entirely, the distinction is hardly important. "Moth"/"Wolf Cub" succeeds because it feels like a collaboration in the truest sense of the word -- a piece of music that subsumes the identities of both artists even as it emphasizes their differences.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.