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Burnerism EP

Team Shadetek
Burnerism EP
(Warp Records)

Considering the debut release from Team Shadatek was a mashup/mix disc entitled WSHT: Radio Mix 2003, and that it came almost 2 years ago, I didn't expect that the collective (or whatever they are) would drop an EP that I would end up calling my favorite release on the Warp Records roster for the year of 2004. Of course, part of the problem most likely was due to the fact that the Warp Records release slate for the year was somewhat lackluster, but that's for another place I suppose.

Simply put, if you enjoy gritty instrumental hip-hop, you should hunt down this release right now. Somewhat akin to what El-P might do if he were cutting non-vocal tracks, this is distorted beats crunchy with odd little melody loops that stick in your head and progressions and unique sounds that will appeal to those looking for an IDM fix. I guess it should come as no surprise given the group slammed together tracks by Warp mainstays with gritty rap (Autechre Vs M.O.P. and Squarepusher Vs Company Flow).

At eight tracks and over a half-hour of music, Burnerism is actually a pretty good chunk of music to bite off, and things get rocking right out of the gate with "Menthol" as deep beats collide with chopped-up vocals and plenty of skittering record squiggles that never allow things to settle into a complete groove. "The Fax" busts with ultra-quick horn bursts as filtered snare-heavy beats crack away and trunk-rattling low end wobbles away underneath.

Those expecting any sort of breather on the release better get used to the idea that there isn't much of a respite at all. The tweaked electro funk of "House Of Leaves" is about as close at it gets, while the closer of "Lanolin" softens the edges a bit with a stuttering piece of melodic glitch-hop that fans of Prefuse 73 would probably eat right up. In the end, it's not a mindblowing release overall (simply because there's been so much of this kind of stuff put out in the past couple years), but it's aggressive and interesting most of the time, and that's still better than you can say about a lot.

Rating: 7