Of all the artists past and present who claim to let their music do their talking for them, Burial is one of the elite band of whom this truly is the case. In fact, so reluctant is he to engage with the cult-of-personality hoopla that surrounds almost every modern producer and musician of merit, that he remains a genuine recluse; he has never appeared live, only one obliquely-angled publicity photgraph is known to exist, and the number of interviews he has given can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Yet despite this, his music speaks loud and wide, and the world has been listening ever since his South London Boroughs EP debut on Hyperdub in March 2005. His eponymous album, which began life as a low-key release in May 2006, is now widely regarded as the benchmark release of the ever-widening dubstep genre, picking up unanimous critical acclaim along the way, and ending the year heavily featured in many best of polls. Now Burial returns with Untrue , a new record of weird soul music, which lovingly processes spectral female voices into vaporised R&B and smudged 2step garage. Vocal lines are blurred, smeared, pitched up pitched down and pitch bent until their content is cast adrift from their original context and they whisper their saccharin sweet nothings into the void. The album continues with the debut s crackle-drenched yearning and bustling syncopations, haunted by the ghosts of rave, but also reveals some new Burial treats with a more glowing, upbeat energy. Kicking off with the skittering 2step syncopations and vocal science of Archangel , Near Dark and Ghost Hardware , before long it descends into a space of radiant divas and ambience. Where Burial first was humid, suffocating and unrelentingly sad, Untrue is less sunless. Many of the tracks are so sweet, they become toxic, underscored by the almost geological rumbles of growling basslines. Unlike the overpoweringly melancholic prevailing mood of before, Burial s sound is now better defined as a downcast euphoria typified by the epic, muted optimism of the album s last track Raver .
Much speculation surrounded the identity of Burial, the creator of Untrue
and its predecessor, 2006's eponymous Burial
speculation quashed when its maker dropped the mask and revealed himself to be William Bevan, a fairly ordinary South Londoner who was just quite fond of making and releasing tunes without all the surrounding fuss. Such revelations, however, cannot quash the haunting beauty of Untrue
itself. Released as most of Burial's dubstep peers were chasing darker sounds and heavier, wobblier bass in an effort to move dancefloors, tracks like "Archangel" and "Etched Headplate" take an altogether different, rather more serene route. 2-step garage rhythms are drenched with glowing, ethereal synths and vinyl crackle, and where vocals appear, they're heavily treated, chopped-up and pitch-shifted, until they sound like the coos and croons of a particularly soulful angel. Aided by occasional snatches of found sound and spoken narrative--"He's not hardcore ... he's not setting out to hurt people" promises one lonely voice, out of the gloom--it's a record that flows remarkably, a journey through a lonely metropolis that's both melancholy and strangely uplifting. Louis Pattison