MMW: Burial

Anonymity was part of the initial lure of Burial, a dubstep producer from London. “I love…old jungle and garage tunes, when you didn’t know anything about them, and nothing was between you and the tunes,” Burial was quoted as saying in a rare interview (The Guardian, October 26, 2007). “I liked the mystery; it was more scary and sexy, the opposite of other music.” Anonymity, of course, has long been a quality positively associated with electronic music, going back to early years of Detroit techno, when acts such as Underground Resistance and Drexciya veiled themselves in obscurity, and even farther back to Kraftwerk, who championed the notion, “We are the robots.” So it’s the back story of Burial (or rather, the lack thereof), in addition to his music, that explains his great appeal to many of those well-versed in the traditions of electronic music.

Burial debuted in March 2005 on the label Hyperdub with the South London Borough EP, which included the tracks “Southern Comfort” and “Broken Home.” This was followed by the full-length album Burial (2006), whose release was accompanied by a second EP, Distant Lights (2006). Comprised of bleak, evocative dubstep — one track, “Night Bus,” entirely beatless, driven only by sample rainfall and eerie synth melodies. Burial’s second album, Untrue (2007), was eagerly awaited as a result of all the acclaim; an EP, Ghost Hardware (2007), was released a few months in advance, drumming up further interest.

In February 2008, British newspaper The Independent made a claim that William Bevan, indeed a native of South London, was the individual behind Burial. Bevan later confirmed the report, continued to record under his alias, and issued several collaborative works with the likes of former schoolmate Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), Thom Yorke, Massive Attack, and Jamie Woon. He issued three additional Hyperdub EPs — Street Halo, Kindred, and Truant — in 2011 and 2012. A Japanese CD release combined the first two. Bevan’s 2013 was quiet until that December, when he released a three-track EP for Hyperdub entitled Rival Dealer.

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“Fostercare” video

Burial vs Massive Attack video

Burial and Portishead live video