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Burial Defies Convention

November 18, 2012 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s rare, finding an artist whose music you can play repeatedly for years and never get tired of it.  Connecting with the music like that is a glorious thing.  Today there is so much noise out there, good and bad, but noise nonetheless.  Ascending beyond the hum of sameness requires something to behold.   Burial’s music, for example, doesn’t sound like anything else to me!  I know that sounds ridiculous.  All music is, in some way or another, an extrapolation of something that came before.  Artist’s are as easily influenced as anybody, and that reflects in their chosen medium.  That’s just a tiny slice of the whole of course, but I can usually hear something familiar in alot of different styles of music, both new and old.  When I heard Burial for the first time I felt like I did during my first spin of Radiohead’s Kid A.  That album just wrapped itself around my brain.  I knew they had changed the game of rock-n-roll forever.  There was nothing to compare it to, and any attempt to over-classify it and stick in into a box doesn’t jell with the spirit of that classic record.   Burial is dark and light, hard and soft, quiet and loud.  OK, I’m grabbing at opposites while attempting to describe an artists sound.  I realize this seems as if I’m getting ahead of myself.  Sorry: this is just rolling from my head to the keyboard as I listen to Burial’s mesmerizing use of space.

One of the things I cherish most about my introduction to Burial is that it came courtesy of Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre!  He sent me a link to a track on Untrue years ago when I was supposed to interview him for a website I was writing for at the time, but it fell through.  I forgot about it.  Then my dear friend and editor at Positive Feedback: Dave Clark (also a friend of BBD) turned me onto Burial via the full LPs  When I first heard Untrue in its entirety I thought: This maniac locked himself in a dark room, full of recording gear for months and concocted this crazy shit.  But it sounded fantastic!  Burial managed to make some of the oddest sample choices (clanging metallic twinges and such) sound melodious and fluid.  His music has a dark background, but its not black all the time.  Think of an audible representation of a starry night when you’ve driven beyond the reach of urban light pollution.  You know, when you venture far off from your hometown, and the stars begin to shine brighter as you get farther away from the concrete jungle.  Burial has that same sonic signature.  His music is so spacious, so wide-open while sounding deep and drivy at the same time, it’s one of the dualities about this enigmatic artist I admire: His ability to seamlessly blend the cosmic texture of space-scapes with edgy percussion sounding almost alien.  Burial, this self-titled masterpiece, is all that and more.

“Southern Comfort” is not what you might imagine that title suggests.  It’s like a filmscore for a sci-fi thriller, at the sametime I can hear this track complementing a scene in a movie which takes place in a club bathroom, with spacey tech house music filling the background.  “Spaceape (feat. Spaceape)” is my favorite cut on the album.  Echoic, yet stripped-down purcussive elements come out of the sonic darkness, welcoming this heavy Rastafari lyrical flow that weeves in and out of pulsating stabs.  The low end extension bounces with intensity.  It’s hypnotic.  Compounded with verses like “stimulating the audio nerve directly, no one conflicts with me” and “so alien so viral”, it’s an addictive audible joyride.  Even the two-minute long, minimalistic vibe captured through drops of rain and distant, soaring synths in “Night Bus” resonates with me in ways that are challenging to pinpoint when I hear it.  Frankly, it just sounds like my generation.  It’s not the only soundtrack of course, but Burial’s music feels relevant, especially in the midst of ludicrous Youtube cardboard cut-out cyberstars and our homogenized obsession with empty celebrity.  I think his music will prove timeless.  I wonder if Goldie is a fan.  I’m sure he is.  If fresh, darkly tinted ambient music with serious soul speaks to you and you don’t know about Burial I highly recommend remedying that situation immediately!  The review copy used was the 12″ 33 1/2 pressing on Cargo Records.

By: Michael Mercer

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