Burial reaches out to you through the ether

By Matt Won

Burial is the reason I spend such an unjustifiable amount of time panning, sifting, and trawling for music. Some seek the same feeling through other artistic media, the way the first page of Goethe’s Faust might hurl shrapnel through your memories and neural connections. Burial is the most heralded bedroom producer in the world, his obsessive nocturnal liaisons with his demons suddenly becoming the heartbeat of a world of seekers as isolated and needful as he.

I imagine American teens in the ’50’s with their heads pressed to the radio speaker, hanging on for dear hope to the first strains of the next song their most trusted DJ would bring to them. Radiohead knew the feeling well, as they united, broader than ever before, a community of passionate seekers who were able to experience a revelation, both in their bedrooms and in one sweeping imagined gasp with millions of other kindred across the globe.

As I listened to the preview mix of his new album, I felt that music listener’s, that seeker’s, analog to the first heroin high that users often chase the rest of their lives. The difference is that there is no limit to the amount of times, however rare, that music can deliver that thrill.

I sat sweating through the night’s chill, tears actually beginning to cloud my eyes, my breath was literally taken away. Goosebumps washed across me like I was thrown into a bed of ghosts. Portions of this material are the most excruciatingly beautiful music I have ever heard.

Many were disappointed with Burial’s self-titled debut, that it went nowhere. In his modesty, Burial has admitted this himself: that the album “promised something” that it never quite delivered.

The first album was culled from years of his spectral conjuring. It was directionless for it was a dialogue with himself and the spirits that countenance him, a mono/dialogue with the very ether that he touches and teeters over, whose beckoning he echoes.

The overwhelming and inestimable transformation that has occurred between these two albums is the solipsism-shattering revelation of this mass of other isolated heartbeats.

Rather than simply reckoning with the ether, he is now imperatively compelled to reach outward through it. This all-consuming motivation, this desperate need and seeking after connection, is what drives “Untrue,” this new album, in the much shorter time span in which it was created.

The crackling pirate radio sines which conveyed the music of the debut no longer simply carry the lost voices of ghosts, but now represent for him a medium of crucial existential connection.

Burial’s extremely rare interviews have dwarfed the PR of any release I have ever seen in my lifetime. Especially, and violently with women, the male-dominated press is quick to psychologize and emotionalize the production of art. Some part of all of us might question whether or not Burial is all some carefully pre-meditated commercial persona. Does he really feel those, is he really moved by, those things that he talks about?

Of course he does. And that’s the magic, the overpowering magnitude of this work: like fellow anonymous outsider musician Jandek, Burial has created a stunning musical canvas in which listeners can come together. This imagined community is part of the thrill of Burial: despite his underground cachet, this is music utterly unadorned by artifice. It’s impossible to look into the eyes of anyone else who’s discovered this music and not believe that they’ve walked those same rainy streets that you have, wrestled those endless empty nights that you have, are so profoundly in need of a ventriloquist to wail the same ineffable need that you have. If you hadn’t, you would never bother with this music, much less have created it.

Burial is a vital almost-utterance, an ecstasy of latency, a scream ever raging on the lips, the howling void of loneliness transmuted through a staggeringly beautiful voicebox.

Where the debut smoldered, the screech moves ever closer to ripping free on “Untrue,” a whirl of Ids that surround and uplift this music.

Burial grasps deep into realms the ever-masculine mainstream of dubstep dare not enter, the places many men seem only able to explore in the dark. The effeminacy that this album is awash in, swirling high above the claustrophobia of gender, is the elusive echo of Thom Yorke at his most personal. As with the first album, voices are pitched up and down and through and across genders to the vicissitudes of the coming into being of Burial’s new musical/emotional language.

Kurt Cobain said that Jandek isn’t pretentious, but only pretentious people like Jandek. If this “review” sounds pretentious, it’s because it is this method of speech that I naturally turn to in grasping to somehow dance for you about this irreducibly magnificent architecture. Perhaps through the sociality of the Internet Burial might fulfill the unification that Jandek promised.

Could it be this that inspired the title of Burial’s “Unite?