Album: BURIAL – Untrue (Hyperdub HDBCD002 2007)

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Untrue must have been one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Burial’s debut was my favourite album of 2006, and I was far from alone. It was The Wire’s record of the year, and even made the top thirty in hoary old Dadrock bible Uncut. Burial faced the familiar second record syndrome – following a first collection of years’ worth of tracks with something created from scratch in a much shorter period, and without repeating himself.

Untrue is much less eclectic than the debut. There is no real equivalent to the heartbreaking ambience of “Night Bus”, nor anything like the quasi-rap of “Space Ape”. The tracks follow a rough template of jagged, distressed looped beats, atmospheric tones, extraneous surface noise, grumbling bass and sampled voices. Everything is spectral and disconnected, with unrelated snippets of song drifting in and out each tune. Burial is an apt moniker, because it sounds like a carnival of ghosts escaped from long lost house, soul, garage and hardcore tunes.

Burial himself has described the collection as more upbeat – but Untrue is a long way from a bunch of Day-Glo rave tunes (“Raver”, a kind of somnambulant trance anthem, is as close as it gets to wave-your-hands-in-the-air, four to the floor euphoria. And that’s not very close). Everything feels dislocated, and somehow lost like mixed up dreams and memories blurring reality and something merely imagined. First time I listened to the record I’d had a few beers, and it was a particularly woozy experience. The second time I was stone cold sober, but it was still just as oddly disconnected.

Picking out highlights from a record like this is difficult. Each track sounds utterly fantastic played alone, but there is a cumulative narcotic effect that comes from listening to the whole thing. The beats may not have the juddering force of Vex’d – in fact they’re pretty simplistic – but this is music designed for the brain and the heart, not the feet. Sonically it has as much in common as My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada and Stars of the Lid as it does with any dubstep contemporaries.

Burial’s desire to remain anonymous may have been hooked into by a media who have to have some kind of ‘angle’ to everything. It scarcely matters who he is. The music stands alone as some of the most original made by anyone for years. The fact that it combines this originality with such a heady emotional power almost defies belief. Untrue is unequivocally a masterpiece.

Tracks
1 Untitled (0:45)
2 Archangel (3:59)
3 Near Dark (3:53)
4 Ghost Hardware (4:54)
5 Endorphin (2:57)
6 Etched Headplate (6:00)
7 In McDonalds (2:09)
8 Untrue (6:16)
9 Shell Of Light (4:41)
10 Dog Shelter (2:58)
11 Homeless (5:26)
12 UK (1:42)
13 Raver (4:58)

Website
www.hyperdub.net

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