Review Summary: Come worship with Nocow at the alter Burial created.
When an artist or band releases material, whether it is one release or over a career, which rises up and above its genre and becomes something of a classic, we can always expect that artist to provide influence to countless other musicians. This will lead to flat out copycats and numerous other releases which are more subtle in their “borrowing” of that group or artist’s work. The most obvious example, to me, is Tool. After “Aenima” (and to some extent even as early as after “Undertow”) it was impossible to not hear Tool’s sound everywhere else. Maynard James Keenan’s influence on vocals in almost all forms of modern rock or metal and its still hear today.
What Tool is to metal or rock, Burial is to dubstep and future garage. His first release was amazing in that it took what people expect from dubstep and he turned it on its head. He took the beats and kept them just as deep as the genre fans had come to expect, but he pushed them to the background. He time and pitch-shifted vocals until they were unrecognizable and became more of an instrument than a focal point. On his second release, “Untrue”, he perfected his formula taking everything his debut was and making it better. People listened. It was only a matter of time before others copied.
Here we are, roughly 5 years after Untrue was released and the copycats are coming out in force. Volor Flex, Late, Sorrow, et al. When the influenced and the copycats come out, it’s not always worth people’s time. Sometimes the music is so derivative of the original that it’s boring. Not everyone wants a lesser version of their favorite artist.
Enter Nocow, the St. Petersburg, Russia producer. He takes Burial’s influence and does an excellent job at making it his own. The second Ruins Tapes starts with “Allow”, you can hear it. The drums are muffled, the bass is deep when it kicks in and the sythns float over the music. It’s impossible to not see Burial’s fingerprints all over almost every track, but it’s equally as impossible to not like it.
On “Moonlight Flit”, Nocow introduces another of Burial’s ideas and adds a chopped up vocal sample that ends up being heavenly. The drum kick is obvious and repetitive, the bass really pounds in the background and by the time the vocal sample kicks in, it’s the height of the album. Late into “Ruins Tape”, “You Got Me” comes at you with a somewhat standard hip-hop beat and subtle, looped sample. The track feels perfect for the ride home after the club, the comedown from a high.
Nocow matches the feel and sound of Burial’s best work. He never looks to make you dance, he wants to be the sound that lets you relax while all the lights are off and you are entering that half-awake/half-asleep state which is ever so peaceful. He makes it more his own by including a little hip-hop influence on some of the drums and kicks.
The one area which Nocow does not match Burial is in the depth of his music. A lot of Nocow’s tracks are short, which don’t give them room to grow or to have as much depth as say, “Ashtray Wasp” (one of Burial’s more sprawling tracks). A lot of times with Nocow, what you hear the first minute of the song is the same as the third minute of the song. Then the song is over.
That’s the only minor issue I have with this release, songs don’t always feel like they are given the time needed to in order to give them more room to grow and add layers. Aside from that, this is an excellent re-work of what people love in Burial. The feel is all mellow. The bass is always lurking in the background, thumping in the most subtle way it can. The synths are light and airy, but always feel right on top of the beats. The moral of this story? It’s better to be good than it is to be original. Nocow takes what Burial taught him and makes better use of it than anyone not named William Bevan.