Monday, November 26, 2007

Burial - Untrue

(11.2007, Hyperdub)

I am not even going to pretend that I know anything about the vast universe of UK techno. With more spliced up subgenres then I could keep track of and a very distinct taste, entry into its dark underworld is virtually impossible. Yet, even with its uninviting labyrinthine artist directory, Burial was still hard to avoid. When last year’s self titled debut hit, those who took noticed almost unanimously marked it as the savior of electronic music and a crossover akin to Portishead’s Dummy. Despite my curiosity at such a rare reaction, Burial’s “Dubstep” was far from the home grown Brooklyn indie that I have been familiar with and even with my much prided openness to new musical forms, Burial provided a difficult listen to swallow without employing preconceived notions of dark clubs and glow sticks. Basically, Burial proved me the pompous music snob that I am. Well, in effort to expand and destroy any hidden pretensions that are constantly a part of any opinion, no matter how honest, I have collapsed to the even more highly lauded follow up: Burial’s Untrue. Now I won’t be able to give you a rundown of the differences of these two albums because I still haven’t heard the self titled debut yet (but will). All I got is a newbie assessment of something almost completely foreign and insidiously provocative. Burial’s beats are crisp, rhythmically beating the pavement like the mechanics of placid rainfall in a dark city. Accompanied by a dark wash of synths, the album occupies an introverted headspace making the album perfect for oversized headphones. While variation obviously infects each track the album doesn’t stray too far from it roots. My biggest stumbling block here is the vocal samples. Harkening too easily the dreaded dance floors that I previously alluded to, the vocals come off as stale and tactless. Granted, a few tracks somehow make these same cheesy vocals work, such as album opener, "Archangel," one of the best single songs of the year, but the album still drags slightly with these samples on the majority of tracks. Burial’s claim to fame is the ability to still make a highly listenable, downtrodden dubstep album that you can’t help but listen to even with the knee jerk reaction to the samples.

-Mr. Thistle

Burial on Myspace

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