Unique & Urban: Burial

Today I want to talk about Burial, which might sound like some death metal band (actually I think there is one by that name), but that’s not the kind of music I will be featuring in this post. I would rather talk about the London based electronic musician & dubstep ghost William Bevan, who remained anonymous until sometime back in 2008. That was about a year after the release of his 2nd full length album, Untrue. He stated in an interview that “only five people know I make tunes“, which to me evokes a great deal of astonishment; releasing 2 full length albums with critical acclaim and still remaining anonymous is to me remarkable in the age of individualism and self promotion. As an artist he is very elusive, and this also tells us a lot about Bevan as a person. He is a loner, introvert and thoughtful person, and he does not seek fame or fortune. I think this is a great feat, and it is definitely mirrored in his music.

Burial – Untrue

Genre-wise it is being described as dubstep, among other things; a tag that is for the wide majority associated with the ‘wobbling’ sound that has been popularized by artists such as Skrillex and Rusko. However, this is not a sound that can be found in any of Burial’s tracks, nor do you find any of that explosive energy. What you are going to find, on the other hand, is atmosphere, emotion and melancholy. There is no doubt that Bevan is very connected to his music on many levels, and that solidifies his integrity as an artist.

There is also this urban sound to his music, which I personally find very interesting. In fact, it inspired me to write a short story that plays out in a big city, which I wrote while listening to almost nothing but Burial. When describing his music, one can not get around without mentioning his signature clink-clank, organic sounding beats, which has spawned a wide range of imitators. Few to none have had success in imitating Burial’s sound completely, yet there’s an attempt worth mentioning.
Since the release of Untrue, Burial has moved from the full length format and started to experiment with the EP format. Subsequently to Untrue, he has released 5 EPs, the first of these being the EP Moth / Wolf Cub, which he did together with Four Tet. Following this, there was the Street Halo EP and Paradise Circus / Four Walls EP, which was a remix of two Massive Attack songs. The remixes are very atmospheric, ghostly and almost dream like, with very little percussion/beats used. The most recent EP releases from Burial are the Kindred and Truant / Rough Sleeper EPs, of which I mostly enjoyed the former. The Kindred EP, which I also featured in my 2012-end-year list, contains three tracks: Kindred, Loner and Ashtray Wasp. The first and last of these go past the 10 minute mark, with the 2nd track being about 7 minutes long, making the whole EP clock in at half an hour. Have a listen:

Out of the three, I enjoyed the first two tracks the most. On the first one, Burial weaves his signature beat together with a beautiful female vocal sample creating a harmony that is simply chilling. I especially love how he ‘bends’ the sample to make it fit into the progression of the synth chords.
Loner is of a bit different nature, as it has a more standard, forward-going beat, with some great synths aswell. The atmosphere of the song is dark, and the synth chords are arranged in a way so that they almost sound alerting, indicating that something bad might happen soon. It was recently featured in the movie Elysium, a pleasant surprise in an otherwise predictable and bland movie (however it fit really well into the scene). Have another listen:


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