Burial
Burial


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
June 19th, 2007 | 95 replies | 26,060 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dubstep gets it due with this critically adored, minimalist meisterwork.

Ya know, back as far as 2001, I was making vague predictions to people as to the future of UK garage. At the time, the word 'chav' had not yet been invented, and the genre hadn't yet become forever associated with burberry, cheap cigarettes, cheaper cider, and gangs of pasty white kids hanging around on street corners. So Solid Crew probably played a great part in inventing that subculture, but when they first arrived, that wasn't on the horizon - it simply seemed like a new genre of music had arrived in the mainstream, and although the critical reaction to them was violent and swift, I thought if they (or anyone else) sorted out the amateurish rapping and started being more inventive with the production, the tide would turn. I said this at the time, pointing to a Megaman solo album as the most likely breakthrough. Then, everything dropped off the map. The tunes that the kids at the back of the bus were playing off their phones were songs that had been recorded before MP3 phones were even invented - "Oi" by More Fire Crew, "Bound 4 Da Reload" by Oxide & Neutrino, *** like that. Either that, or they'd moved on to Pendulum. Yeah, people pointed to Dizzee Rascal and Wiley as the evolution of the genre, but in truth, grime really doesn't have that much in common with UK garage, and it's easy to imagine that it would have evolved from the likes of Blak Twang and Roots Manuva anyway. For all intents and purposes, it looked like the genre was dead.

And then, lo and behold - The Wire made Burial their Album of the Year in 2006, moving the more obvious, more famous contendors of Scott Walker's The Drift and Joanna Newsom's Ys into second and third place. Admittedly, I thought Burial were a death metal band when I read that list (and it turns out that yes, there IS a death metal band also named Burial), so when I investigated a bit further, I was shocked to see phrases like 'UK garage', '2-step', and 'techstep' being thrown around in a positive light by reviewers. Hey, I was right all along! UK garage is having its critical day in the sun!

Except this isn't the same UK garage the chavs love. For a start, Burial has indeed sorted the amateurish rapping....by dispensing with it altogether. All the vocals here are short, cut-up samples used in exactly the same way as sirens, raindrops, and airhorns - they're just another sound effect. And yes, the production is much, much more inventive. It's dark, almost sickeningly bass-heavy, and echo-heavy. In fact, it's so inventive, so different from what went before, that they're not even calling it UK garage anymore. Like Banksy - another anonymous, acclaimed artist hiding behind a vague moniker - Burial has carved something new, and acceptable to both the underground scene that spawned it and the highbrow critics. This ain't UK garage anymore - this right here is dubstep.

If you're aware of both 2-step and dub as genres, I need give you no explanation of what dubstep is - it's exactly how it sounds. Where as dub takes reggae and twists it into new shapes by adding generous dollops of echo, reverb, and distortion, and dropping instruments out or bringing them back in at unexpected points, often just leaving the rhythm track to do all the work, dubstep does exactly the same for 2-step (for all intents and purposes, 2-step and UK garage are the same thing). The rhythms remain the same - imagine house music in 2/2 rather than 4/4, with busy hi-hat work and a more syncopated snare - but what goes over the top of it is entirely different, moving the music into entirely fresh territory. It even moves the rhythms into new territory - while there's very little difference in what the drums are actually doing when compared to more typical UK garage, the way they're produced here, and the music that surrounds them, makes them sound jittery and uncertain.

Even at a relatively average 51 minutes, Burial almost feels like it'll never end at times. As an album, it's claustrophobic, nervous, and at times, scary. At times, it's also gorgeous - "Forgive" is almost heartbreakingly beautiful. It's also painfully minimal - at times, the only audible sound is raindrops, or heavy breathing, or the drunms, and most of these tracks are conjured out of only four or five basic elements. Truth be told, this album spiritually lands itself in the very British tradition of early-morning, post-club albums - think early Groove Armada, any British trip-hop, Zero 7, or anything described as 'chill-out', or 'downtempo', or 'ambient dance'. It's music for when you're tired, slightly emotional, on a comedown from whatever drugs you've been doing - and in all seriousness, Burial is probably better than any album by any of those artists for that exact moment. It's an album that sounds about 5 times better really late at night, and roughly 10 times better when you're playing it really loudly in the dark.

Yeah, maybe this does sound like the most boring thing in the world - something a few other reviews of this have claimed. If you're coming into this album expecting something to dance to, or something that'll liven up a party, or even if you're looking for 'songs' in the traditional sense, then yeah, you'll probably be disappointed, and a little bored. But that'd be missing the point. If you're prepared to give yourself over to this album, allow it to wash over you, then you'll find that it's an experience that's probably quite unlike anything you've ever had. The most instant comparison point is Massive's Mezzanine (especially on the spoken word "Spaceape", which handily features somebody called Spaceape), an album that offers a similar sonic palette, but with different roots. The difference is that Mezzanine had the likes of "Teardrop" and "Angel" - at their heart, those were just great pop songs in very dark clothing. There's nothing here that could be mistaken for an accessible pop song. It'll take work to get into for a lot of listeners, sure, but it's worth it. The Wire were only slightly wrong - this may not have been the best album of 2006, but it was definitely top 10.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
La Revolucion
June 19th 2007



1060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is such a good record.

Iai
Emeritus
June 19th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A comment!

La Revolucion
June 20th 2007



1060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can't believe no one else has commented. HEY EVERYONE BUY THIS NOW

Iai
Emeritus
June 20th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I know. Surely more people read The Wire, if nothing else?

La Revolucion
July 9th 2007



1060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well I've never read The Wire, but this is still really good.

blackmilk
August 16th 2007



584 Comments


Yeah, this album is awesome.

Dubstep is a hard genre to get into. Most of the artists and DJs seem to favor singles and mixes over full albums.

La Revolucion
August 20th 2007



1060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I know, it's really aggravating. I really like Burial, but I haven't been able to find any other like-minded artists at all.

blackmilk
August 20th 2007



584 Comments


Get The World is Gone by Various Production. It's sort of like this, but it also has some acoustic stuff.


plane
Staff Reviewer
August 20th 2007



6085 Comments


So this is really good.

Iai
Emeritus
August 20th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Vex'd is good stuff too.

La Revolucion
August 20th 2007



1060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Get The World is Gone by Various Production. It's sort of like this, but it also has some acoustic stuff.

I've already got that, but I've never associated it too closely with this. It's fantastic, though.

Vex'd is good stuff too.

I'll look into them.

Iai
Emeritus
August 20th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Apparently the compilation that's attributed to Kode9 and The Space Ape (Dupstep Allstars Vol. 3) is great too, but I haven't heard it.

blackmilk
August 20th 2007



584 Comments


Spaceape is boring.

Skream is someone to get into too. I've heard "Midnight Request Line" and a two hour mix. The former I guess is supposed to be a pretty big song in the genre, but it isn't as great as people make it out to be.

Iai
Emeritus
December 4th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In retrospect, I can't believe I only accorded this a 4.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
January 29th 2008



1588 Comments


Its a goodalbum , but I don't think it stands up to its younger brother.This Message Edited On 01.28.08

Iai
Emeritus
January 29th 2008



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I disagree. They're pretty much on a par for me.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
January 31st 2008



1588 Comments



I disagree. They're pretty much on a par for me.

In my mind Untrue is a step above this. Not to discredit this album, its a stunner too. It seems like a lot was learnt from this album, which was used to help create Untrue.

Kaleid
January 31st 2008



710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I suppose it depends on what mood you're in at the time. I think Untrue is perhaps a little more accessible, or immediate. This is a little sparser, I'd say, but no worse for it

AtavanHalen
January 31st 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Untrue > Burial.

Drix
February 16th 2008



7 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually prefer this over Untrue..

Untrue may be a better album but there is something about the mood in this one that can't be beat. It's even darker, more natural.. more true to the sounds of the night. I love it to bits.. so so simple, yet so effective. A future classic shaping it's own genre!



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