Review Summary: Under the cover of darkness and obscurity is a challenging and mysterious sound that Burial has made his own.
"I'm a low-key person and I just want to make some tunes, nothing else". From this quote alone, it's obvious that William Bevan has no interest in the limelight. His dedication to obscurity even manages to seep into the tunes that he breeds through a combination of beats, sound effects, samples, and a style of music that no one had ever suspected could be so intriguing. Under the Burial title, Bevan set out to redefine what sub-genres like dubstep and UK garage could actually be. This involved employing as well as scrapping some well-established ideas and introducing plenty of new ones. Thus, Burial's self-titled debut album sounds fresh and original, while also bringing forth a thoroughly intellectual and hair-raising state of hypnosis.
Getting lost in this album is inevitable with a decent pair of headphones. Burial shows off his gigantic palette of unusual sonic textures and irregular cadences, crafting incisive tracks that slowly creep into the back of the listener's mind. His heavily paranoid beats make for a precarious environment that constantly exudes neurosis. The various samples are carefully interwoven with the ambient hinges of the tracks. As a result, the interplay between each song is both fulfilling and sturdy. An undeniable tension, however, is what pushes the LP forward. Burial captures a dim-lit recess of electronic potency and continuously backs his audience into a tight corner. As the record advances, the sound becomes increasingly claustrophobic, putting the listener at the mercy of a reclusive mentality.
Take tracks like "U Hurt Me", "Broken Home", and "Wounder", for instance, in which Burial concocts seemingly inescapable patterns of shade and desolation. His repetitive beats are effectively hammered into the brain through incessant jostling, but the real essence of Burial's sound is what comes in between these intervals of metronomic persistence. Careful and patient attention reveals fragments of a deserted and damaged universe. Burial tucks these shards of darkness into the pockets of dense tracks like "Distant Lights". The sound of fallen bullet casings suggests a sinister presence, while a rising wave of ambient hums linger like shadows that are equally as menacing.
While the more manic songs ultimately form the crux of the record, Burial shows a commitment to variety with a couple of fertile ambient tracks that are spread out evenly enough to give the album an opportunity to stretch. "Night Bus" is the more neutral track, implementing the sound of rain as a more serene complexion moves the tune along. On the other hand, "Forgive" is much more proactive, juxtaposing prepossessing, innocent, and youthful vocals with a strikingly vibrant atmosphere. The track is the only genuine shimmer of hope on the album, a glimpse of the other side, where the grass is indeed greener. For the majority of the LP, however, darkness prevails. The spoken words on "Spaceape" unveil an apocalyptic, malignant force, underscored by a nefarious beat more concerned with impact than rhythm.
Burial furiously hurls agitated surges of percussion on tracks like "Southern Comfort", with tempos that are anything but complacent. In the midst of these glitchy bears and mystifying samples, what is also enticing about Burial's first album is its inexplicable composure. His samples are scrupulously selected and the effects are orchestrated in a resolute fashion. The end result is a visionary projection filled with visceral moments of uneasiness and instability. Key tracks like "Gutted" reflect an unfilled yearning, exacerbated by the unrelenting noise of a pistol-cocking action. By the end of the album, Burial has dealt a number of hands, ranging in sentiment from optimistic to intimidated.
Burial is difficult to interpret and grasp. Nevertheless, his sonic arrangements tease the ears in ways that are nothing short of captivating. He completely dismembers genres like dubstep and house music and turns them into something astute and unorthodox. Therefore, this album's design is particularly admirable, and its darkness is contagious.
U Hurt Me