Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ghost In The Shell: Burial's Untrue

This review appears in this year's final Friday issue of Washington Square News.

The London electronic producer Burial released sophomore album Untrue to an overwhelmingly positive reaction, with a preliminary internet buzz and write-ups in prominent publications. It's an unexpected response to a record as difficult as Untrue, but one that's justified. While the album is far from immediate, it is full of strangely beautiful soundscapes.

After a brief introduction, "Archangel" begins the album with a bold statement, as a looped, painfully romantic voice confesses over a stuttering break beat. While the lyrics are simple ("Loving you/Couldn't be alone") and the percussion is mechanized, the song conveys real emotion.

The rest of the album expands on this template, filtering elegantly cathartic lines such as, "I envy you," "You lied" or "I can't take my eyes off you" through hazy atmospheric effects. Words aren't necessary on "Ghost Hardware," which is built around shimmering vocals that float above its steady clank of sound, the only solid element in the mix. The distortion clears on the latter half of "Shell of Light," as soulful singing provides a tranquil moment, but it's once again swallowed by the rest of the album's moodiness.

The result is an intensely nocturnal work that acts as a cohesive mood piece, divided into tracks as a formality. It's unnecessary that Burial reveal his true identity, as his music is impressive no matter what influenced its formation. Untrue is an unconventional album, but one that's starkly poignant.


Burial needs to tour, but he probably won't. Maybe take a page out of Daft Punk's book and dress up to hide your identity? Read some interviews at Hyperdub's blog and Blackdown.

MP3: Burial - Ghost Hardware
MP3: Burial - Shell of Light
MySpace: Burial
MySpace: Hyperdub
Official Site: Hyperdub

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