Pitchfork's review of the new Burial album.
I've forced myself not to say anything about the new Burial album Untrue
for a week now just to give myself some time to soak it in and see if I really like the album this much. Well after a week I think I can safely say I do. Of all the artists who have emerged over the past couple of years few have excited me as Burial. He has released two amazing albums thus far (Untrue
and 2006's self-titled album), has a very strong understanding of what he is trying to do and accomplishes it exceptionally well (as the quotes in the pitchfork article and this one
at K-Punk can attest to), and has become the first DJ that I've heard that has actually made me want to become a DJ myself (wouldn't that be a funny site).
Anyways, enough of my gushing. Onto the album. Unlike a number of recent underground albums to have come out in recent years, be it hip-hop, metal, jazz or whatever falls under the 'indie' guise, Untrue
has a strong sense of location. Burial is an artist that understands the importance of his roots, his influences, and wants this to come out in his music. It's an album that pays homage to Burial's home ground of South London both musically, alluding to such musical forms as grime, dubstep, bassline, and even some old-school rave stuff (ala 808 State), and architecturally, trying to paint a picture of a decaying setting that is haunted by it's former, more glorious pass (the closest thing I can think of in Winnipeg would be the exchange district). It's an album that makes me an outsider, as it is constantly referencing that which I (as a Winnipegger and not a Londonite) have had little to nothing to do with. But given how much I still enjoy the album, I'm okay with this.
However, while in many ways I can't really fully understand the significance of this album, since I have little knowledge of its context, there is still lots to chew on here. In fact, one key result of this strong dedication to location is that Untrue
is one of those albums that makes you see things differently. Not in some "it's changed my life" kind of ways. I mean that this album literally makes you see things differently, as once you put it on, how you look at your surrounding completely changes as you are taken into this other setting being created by Burial. The textures created throughout the album are done so with such care and precision that they completely impact how you see and understand your everything around you. Walking down the street feels, doing your dishes or riding your bike all become different, once you put on this record.
Musically, the album is quite something. This time around, Burial has decided to focus on sampling R n' B vocalists. There is a passion in these vocalists that is inspiring to hear. The problem is that you only ever really get a small glimpse of them as Burial refuses to allow them to become somewhat intelligible to hear. He has been quoted in the past saying he wants to capture with his music, that moment once you've left a club and the music is still ringing in your ears. He wants to create music that is unfinished, and only partially ever really heard. He does this by blurring the vocals, placing them in the background of the music, or loading them up with so many effects that they hardly sound like voices anymore. He maintains the passion inherent in these voices, but strips them of everything else. The vocals are always present, however only in a fragmented and distant kind of way.
As such, the vocals help give a general unsettled feeling to the album, that makes it refreshing to hear. There is a sense in which the album remains intentionally unfinished allowing the listener the chance to fill in the holes. It's a participatory album that invites the listeners to further explore what it is Burial is trying to accomplish.
Anyways, I could go on forever on how great this album is so I should probably stop. All of this is to say that you should check this album out ASAP.
Until next time...