Burial – Burial (Hyperdub)

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Kode9’s Hyperdub label can seemingly do no wrong. Arriving in the mail last week was the first full length album release on the label, coming from the rather mysterious figure of Burial. Apparently put together entirely without sequencers and just using the wave editor software Sound Forge it is the missing link between early dubstep and late era garage and the new futuristic half speed dubstep of labels/production crews like DMZ. It is records like this that remind me of the radical potential of simplicity and making the most of minimal technology. Featuring a few tracks from the South London Boroughs 12” of last year, the album takes those ideas further ending up sounding as much like early dubstep/2-step producers like El-B as Maurizio and the other early Berlin Basic Channel/Chain Reaction sound. In Burial’s beats there is a swing that has disappeared from the newer dubstep sounds, but as they are produced unsequenced they move in and out of time, and they sound muffled and sad. This atmosphere of bleakness and grey skies overshadows the whole album, giving every track a mournful quality – tracks like You Hurt Me should be energetic with bass drops and jittery beats but end up sounding contemplative and melancholic. Most tracks revolve around a simple motif or vocal sample and instead of being packed full of sound they echo with space, emptiness – a simplicity akin to that of early jungle then the result of technological limitations, but now a radical voluntary aesthetic. The hiss and crackle that permeates everything sounds alternately like rain, mist, fog, pirate radio static, tape hiss, and old vinyl all together, adding another layer – much like those first Basic Channel records that really emphasised the sense of loss and lack. This is an amazing album and even though in the Southern Hemisphere we are far from the internalised grey skies ‘no futurism’ of London it is perfect for our impending winter.

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About Author

Seb Chan founded Cyclic Defrost Magazine in 1998 with Dale Harrison. He handed over the reins at the end of 2010 but still contributes the occasional article and review.

8 Comments

  1. yeah but where the hell can you BUY the album?! it ain’t on inertia yet (they only just got stock of the dubstep all stars 3 compilation!). and bleep don’t have it for download — got the burial ep (‘south london boroughs’) off bleep before it’s very textural (bleep can be ‘slow as’ for downloads though, i’m getting 13kbps off them right now with a bunch of loefah and blackdown i just bought). but back to burial, ‘hauntology’ a strange word that autonomic used to describe it, very appropriate . dangnabbit. must. buy. burial.

  2. Hey Scot

    It is available from Boomkat on pre-order. It ships in early May.

    http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=21299

    ‘Hauntology’ is part of a blog meme that has been bouncing around between k-punk, simon reynolds (see midway down the page at http://blissout.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_blissout_archive.html) and others discussing everything from Burial to the Ghost Box label which makes music that sounds like what HP Lovecraft would have wanted from ‘library music’. Even one of the acts on Ghost Box is called Eric Zann (after the Lovecraft short story). Ghost Box is run by Julian House who does stuff with Broadcast and is a graphic designer. Very very far removed from dubstep though.

    http://www.ghostbox.co.uk

  3. I’m digging the South London Burroughs EP, though it’s not quite as thrilling as I was hoping… waiting on the album.

  4. Yeah the album is thrilling because it holds its mood together for the entire listen, and it is the ‘mood’ more than anything that makes it such a great record.

    Of course, now there is so much hype about the release I’m sure a lot of people will be inevitably disappointed when it doesn’t match their exact aural vision of what it ‘should’ sound like based on reviews.

  5. “Hauntology’ is part of a blog meme that has been bouncing around between k-punk, simon reynolds (see midway down the page at http://blissout.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_blissout_archive.html) and others discussing everything from Burial to the Ghost Box label which makes music that sounds like what HP Lovecraft would have wanted from “library music’. Even one of the acts on Ghost Box is called Eric Zann (after the Lovecraft short story). Ghost Box is run by Julian House who does stuff with Broadcast and is a graphic designer. Very very far removed from dubstep though.

    Thanks for the link and the info. I guess I will wait until May to hear it. How does it compare to the South London EP? I guess that — and the bits I’ve heard in the DJ mixes from Blackdown and Kode9 will be the thing that I’m comparing it against, rather than the reviews themselves.

    Simon Reynolds, eh?! I just finished reading his post-punk book a couple of months ago. Coincidence? I think not [gives knowing look, arches eyebrow].

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