A dark return to two step territory, and a somnambulent classic in the making...
Si Hawkins 2007-11-30
As the name might suggest, Burial likes to keep things underground. The mysterious producer is a curious anomaly on the currently flourishing dubstep scene, keeping his identity secret while others are networking furiously and raking in lots of DJ cash. Rumours abound that he doesn’t even exist, that Burial is actually the alter-ego of an established artist – perhaps Kode9, who runs the Hyperdub label. In reality, he’s just the reclusive type.
The music, too, is of a different character to the dubstep sound currently blasting out from club backrooms across Europe. Burial's beats aren’t really aimed at the dancefloor, more for headphones-under-a-hoodie, down in a tube station at midnight – and the headphones need to be decent. Where the best-known dubstep cuts are built on growling, barking basslines, his beats are a more intricate proposition.
Last year's eponymous debut LP flirted with the most experimental electronica and introduced a new breed of leftfield-loving listener to the overall scene. Now this much-anticipated follow-up takes an unexpected step back, and an intriguing return to classic two-step. It’s a sort of evil twin to the uplifting, chart-friendly sound that shone brightly but briefly five years ago.
The skippety beats and soulful vocals are still intact, but Burial darkens the mood considerably, burying them deep within layers of rumbling, almost imperceptible bass and horror-soundtrack synth. The ominous “Archangel”, “Ghost Hardware,” “Etched Headplate” and “Untrue” itself could easily be remixes of long-forgotten early-noughties cuts, and suggest a man who, when those old two-step house-parties were in full swing, was hiding in the garage. Keeping your distance can sometimes pay rich dividends.