Burial
Untrue


5.0
classic

Review

by Christopher Y. USER (50 Reviews)
July 7th, 2021 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How so?

The past two years have not been kind to us. The pandemic, political upheavals, and the combination of the two have created a firestorm of chaos and hostility while producing dark smokes of uncertainty towards the future, as it seems they seem to never end. Every day, I kept wondering when can I go back to the lecture halls to take face-to-face lessons instead of taking them through Zoom sessions, all the while filling myself with nothing but dread by reading the daily news, political news in particular. Every song has become detached to me, and the music I heard sounded less like songs than fading sounds of the past. But then, I rediscovered Burial’s tour de force Untrue, as if it pulled me back to reality from the nihilism. Even the album is perhaps the most otherworldly work I heard, it is also the most comforting electronica album I have heard as well.

Perhaps the reason why Untrue sounded so human is its sonic shift from the claustrophobia in Burial’s self-titled debut that is akin to Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine” to a warmer, melancholic soundscape, without ditching the UK garage sound and the off-kilter breakbeat that makes the signature Burial sound. Take the lead single “Archangel” as an example, by sampling an R&B track “One Wish”, twisting the vocal’s pitches and combining it with vinyl hisses and a Metal Gear Solid orchestral track, Burial created a musical fever dream of androgynous vocals, swirling strings and Burial’s playful, hard-hitting dance beats, the song is a tape of an archangel’s last words. Here, the tracks do not sound like they want to suffocate you with nihilistic sonics. Instead, by using a large number of vocal samples, Burial created tracks that seem to be soundtracks in our subconsciousness, exploring relatable themes including heartbreak (the yearning “Near Dark”, the galloping title track), isolation (the hypnotizing “Shell of Light”), listlessness (the danceable “Raver”) and despair (the shapeshifting “Homeless”) as well as more supernatural themes such as ghosts (the paranoid “Ghost Hardware”) and angels (the aforementioned “Archangel”). Don’t get me wrong, Untrue is arguably darker than its predecessor, but the darkness here is more comforting than spine-chilling, displaying Burial’s inventiveness of combining smoky audio atmosphere, jittering beats and time-stretched, pitch-shifted audio samples, and perhaps that’s why Untrue is much more memorable and influential than Burial.

Amidst the dark clouds of uncertainty, though, there are shimmering silver linings as well. Began with a section of an interview tape, the six-minute opus “Etched Headplate”, which features sections from an R&B track “Ready For Love” and a soulful YouTube cover of the song “Angel”, the song created a beautiful contrast with glowing synths, dripping beats, and dark, grumbling buzz, sounding as if the sun has finally appeared after years of rainy days. After the rainy soundscape and repeating vocal traces, the end of the aforementioned “Shell of Light” features a pitch-shifted vocal sample of the guitar pop “Whisper” and illuminating synths, guiding the listeners out of the self-isolating “shell of light” and heading towards the outside world. These two moments, like “Teardrop” in Mezzanine, provides a dim yet significant glow to the overall pitch black of an album, accentuating not only the darkness of the record but also paint a bright new light to the usually dark album.

But even without the garage beats, Burial is still able to make remarkable moments as well. The opening track “Untitled” provides an audio appetizer, with an eerie spoken word by women followed by a dense amount of vinyl hiss and John Carpenter synths, opening the door to such an ethereal album. Listen to the dreamy “In McDonalds”, which uses an altered acapella from Aaliyah’s “I Refuse” throughout the song, the song sounds as if the listener is in a McDonalds store on a rainy day, listening to a lost Mac’s jingle and other customers entering and sitting down, all the while falling asleep. Other interludes “Endorphin”, “Dog Shelter” and “Uk” are wondrous palette cleansers at their own right as well: the first one is a psychedelic mixture of contorted vocals, glowing synths, and vinyl hiss as if the listener is daydreaming peacefully in a rainy day; the second one is an instrumental which features a loop of illuminating synths, vinyl hisses and yodels, giving a perspective of one hoping for a sunny day in a heavy rainstorm; the last one, which features a sample of Aphex Twin’s ambient track “#3”, is perhaps an impressionist sonic sketch of a rainy night in the United Kingdom, allowing listeners to immerse in an audio experience to such situation. This shows Burial’s ability to create captivating tracks even without his signature “bullet shell” hi-hat and dubstep drums, proving his wide range beyond the club beats.

It is easy to dismiss Untrue as a quintessential “crying in your bedroom” album, given the album’s overall dark and morose tone. On a closer listen, however, you can find many fascinating nuances in the record, as it provides not only comfort but hope as well. While the UK garage genre has provided an already fascinating mixture of urban music beats and soulful vocals, it was Untrue that perfected and expanded this formula, allowing both underground and mainstream pop artists to experiment with twisted vocals, eerie beats, and audio experiments. As a result, you will find this album not of an electronic album to dance to, but one to listen deeply after a hectic day and one as a template for electronica and pop production for years to come.


Actual Rating: 4.9/5

Recommended Tracks:
Archangel
Etched Headplate
In McDonalds
Shell of Light



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user ratings (2163)
4.3
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SherlockChris9021
July 7th 2021


222 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It has been a while since I review an "electronic" album, so I may write some prose and stuff that may not stick to you guys.

As always, any constructive criticisms are welcomed.

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2021


19033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

i love this album so much. fantastic review and solid examination of different sides of Burial's sound

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2021


5088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's a crime that In McDonald's was cut from the vinyl release. Never understood that decision, especially since there was enough room on the vinyl anyway, it being a double LP and all.



Great review, thanks for reminding me to come back to this.

Trebor.
Emeritus
July 7th 2021


59912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice

JustJoe.
July 7th 2021


10944 Comments


did we really need another review of this

JustJoe.
July 7th 2021


10944 Comments


the answer is yes

Chambered79
July 7th 2021


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album rules

JustJoe.
July 7th 2021


10944 Comments


no u

Chambered79
July 7th 2021


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no u

JustJoe.
July 7th 2021


10944 Comments


😁

Chambered79
July 7th 2021


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

im afraid of joy

JustJoe.
July 7th 2021


10944 Comments


me too actually if we’re being real

Chambered79
July 7th 2021


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

let's b real

Ryus
July 7th 2021


37492 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

kinda absurd that this is like my 4th favorite burial release and its incredible. dunno why it took me forever to get this dude

Asdfp277
July 7th 2021


24467 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

now that i'm older i might be able to get into this

Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2021


21418 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review and congrats on your 50th :]

SherlockChris9021
July 9th 2021


222 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, it took me quite a while to jump from 48th to 50th.

FadedSun
July 10th 2021


3196 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"It's a crime that In McDonald's was cut from the vinyl release. Never understood that decision, especially since there was enough room on the vinyl anyway, it being a double LP and all."



My copy has all the tracks. They released one in 2016 or something that had the missing tracks.

aok
July 11th 2021


4626 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

A hardcore. He's not setting out to hurt people. He's got a lot of love in him, you know, for his mother his brother and his girlfriend. So it's more a question of will power self discipline circumstances

parksungjoon
July 11th 2021


47234 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

K



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