The beginning of the year is always a time for musical reflection for me. After spending the last three months heavily listening to new albums for consideration on my albums of the year list, its good to go back to some of my favorite works and clear the mind. Classics that remain just as great today as when they were created.
Untrue by Burial is one of those classic albums. On it, William Emmanuel Bevan takes iconic dance music genres and tackles them with such a clarity of vision that in the process he seems to create an entirely new sonic landscape.
Electronic and sampled drumbeats shuffle their way through his work; never locking to the grid of perfection, but with a natural organic swing of a real drummer. It’s this blend of the electronic and the human that make his music still so relevant. It could be the soundtrack for a robot A.I. starting to gain emotions, or a human loosing theirs to become more robotic and fit themselves into the algorithms that now seem to run what has become our external social media selves.
It is a sound that is now regularly imitated but never matched, partly because copies never have the same emotional weight as Burial achieves. On the albums final track “Raver” Burial takes some of the most iconic sounds of the 90’s dance floor, namely the string pad sounds found on so many of the classic dance anthems, and distorts them into a mirage of their former selves. “Raver” becomes a nostalgic view of a hedonistic time that the world has now become too serious to exhibit. With time, that nostalgia grows, and so does the power of this album. It’s a prophecy for things that are now coming to pass. “Untrue” is an essential listen for anyone.
I have now seen the latest documentary by Adam Curtis HyperNormalisation a few times I always find his works captivating insights into the world, Its hypocrisy and the influential forces that are both in control and out of control.
He has peppered the soundtracks of his documentary’s with Burial for several years now and it works perfectly, as if the track was composed for this vision of the world that is slipping into dystopia.
Burial has always hidden in the shadows both in his persona and music. The music itself comes from beneath the surface, taking influences from different dance music connected with city life and blending them with darker elements to create a sound that feels as if its oozing through the cracks.
Ghost Hardware is a perfect example, Reese Style Bass lines synonymous with Drum and Bass growl their way through the track like a savage beast hiding in the darkness while a garage style percussion powers through the track giving the swampy textures of the rest of the track momentum and pitched vocals add a feeling of humanity without loosing the tracks synthetic quality. It remains one of my favourite tracks from an artist with an already incredible collection of work:
Burial bookended last year in music for me. Truant/Rough Sleeper and Rival Dealer EP’s were the first and last things i bought and have both been great works. Managing to develop and evolve the iconic sound, synonymous with the artist.
Rival Dealer starts harsher and more abrasive than any of his previous works on its opening and title track. But then goes to the other end of the spectrum with a softer and gentle approach that almost borders on the romantic.
Tracks Hiders (below) and Come down to Us as with the rest of Burials work over 2013 have managed to show an artist developing their sound in unique and refreshing ways that manage to completely defy my expectation of their work.
If these mini EP’s continue over a full album from burial and offer this diversity i hope they continue into 2014 and beyond:
Plenty has been said about Burial by many different areas of the media and its easy to see why. He appeared out of nowhere with a fully developed and original sound on his self titled debut album in 2006. This mix of extremely polished production and his anonymity made him become a major talking point.
6 years later and the dust has settled on the speculation but he’s been no flash in the pan. He has developed a unique sound, creating something that both stays fresh and yet is distinctively his. The new EP/Single “Truant, Rough Sleeper” Has longer and more harmonically focused tracks, without loosing that sparse sound he’s become notorious for.
Although I love both tracks, it’s the development of rough sleeper that really does it for me, the use of organ and saxophone really makes the track feel fresh and the constant stop and start of the track keeps you on your toes. 14 minutes of fantastic and unique music:
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