Review Summary: Moving forward and back swaying in paranoia among the bright lights of the dense concrete jungle.
When you look at a fine painting it isn’t just the front that makes it so beautiful. Just drawing a face is in no way an accomplishment. After all it is the detail to texture that makes Mona Lisa’s smile so vibrant, it is the textures along with the delicate layers that are key elements to any form of expressive art. Burial understands this premise and draws it out to soaring heights with his album Untrue.
Untrue is a true delight, upon its surface it may seem a bit odd to those used to the standard outings of radio electronic artists. There are varying vocal samples stapled throughout, there are no heavy bass drops or catchy dance beats: this is the utilization of sound as art. Sound may be more fitting than what is to be expected of music, the arrangements on Untrue are more thickly layered than a wedding cake that alone provide little, but together flourish as a mobile unit. In the spotlight are loud drum patterns traded off between vocal samples but as a theatre production the stars are nothing without their agents, and makeup artists. Everything on Untrue is pieced together very meticulously and at first glance may seem to be shallowly repetitive due to many due to the drum samples sounding similar and the vocal samples appearing to be random jargon added into the mix. However upon further investigation this proves to be untrue as every hit of the drum and distant, soulful sample have their place.
One of the most brilliant aspects of Untrue is the production: the atmosphere is beautiful yet haunting. Utilizing modern styled dubstep beats around a thick, dark atmosphere provides an urban feel to the album that is hard to deny. Expressing itself in a post-modern state, it feels like this release lives as some sort of outlandish trend setter awaiting the next fashion show to tickle and fill its exotic wardrobe. Burial tries to be ahead, it goes to the top of the game and it has no regrets for any of those it crushes along the way. Like with any post-modernist: social consciousness tags along as a baggage for better or worse, and in this lays paranoia. This album drives with a sense of paranoia that mixes in with the urban vibe to feel as if it embodies the darkest alleys, and sprawling red light district streets. This shaky gesture is brought upon by what I refer to as the ‘crackling’. This album is full of small, complex beats and rhythms that I did not even notice until over 10 listens because they are so inconspicuous. There is no showing off to be found on Untrue whatever beats you may find are present to add to atmosphere alone. Upon each tracks’ layers can be found swooping dubstep waves that fade in and out amongst the scenery, act as if cascading over the entirety of the tracks. While glitchy crackling sounds announce their way up and down along the tracks. The tension builds, the moment becomes real and all that can be said is the paranoid gibberish coming out the vocal samples and that is all that needs to be uttered to understand.
The formula works so well because of the production. The drum beats may seem simple but the way they are delivered is what is important. They zone into the atmosphere from different depths, lengths and heights- the atmosphere begins to feel like a tangible object with lines of sound fading in and out of themselves as the music progresses. The subtle glitch beats act as a heart pulsating blood into the organism that is the track, moving forward and back swaying in paranoia among the bright lights of the dense concrete jungle. It is because of subtle touches that Untrue is so successful it takes several close listens to find all the little hidden aspects that make Untrue so heartfelt, unique and alive: sitting with its headphones on, eyes closed, waiting for his stop.