April 25, 2012

Burial - Burial (2006)

By now, dubstep has a pretty shitty reputation among people who actually care about this stuff, and the source of this hatred can probably be pinpointed to ϟƘƦƖןןΣx who single-handedly managed to bring the wrath of the electronica crowd (well, part of it, anyway) upon the genre. Sure, there are probably even worse offenders out there, but this guy is so big and famous that I have no problem blaming it all on him. He's a cunt and violent electronic music makes me nauseous.  

It doesn't have to be this way, though, as renowned British producer Burial demonstrates with his 2006 self-titled debut. In all fairness, Burial's music is rooted in 2-step garage and tends  to be considered more of a dubstep precursor and, as such, it has absolutely nothing to do with the modern, over-processed mess that dubstep has now become. No, this is closer to (dark) ambient as the artist is striving to create atmosphere

The music is composed of all sorts of fragmented sound bites arranged in irregular, paranoid patterns that help create a sense of unease and nervousness. The main drum beats usually feature a kick on the first and third beat, with snares, claps and hi-hats coming in at unpredictable intervals - and it sounds nothing like a typical four-on-the-floor house or techno beat. The artist then adds various bits of clanking, mechanical noises and disembodied, echoed vocal samples to the mix while saturating the background with grave synth pads, thus creating a dense, brooding atmosphere that's simultaneously enthralling and anxiety-inducing. The ambiance is meant to evoke the loneliness of walking through an urban landscape by night. The towering concrete buildings, the shining street lights reflecting in puddles of water by the sidewalk, the eerie feeling of being alone in a dark, unfamiliar place, a solitary night bus moving silently on the streets - Burial recreates these sights and sounds through his intelligent, carefully planned rhythms. 

While it's perfectly suitable as background music for when you're working or whatever, Burial truly shines when you're listening to it alone, at night, in your bed. It instantly hooks you and makes for a soothing journey towards REM sleep. Burial is an entirely different beast than his contemporary counterparts and, even after six years, the music bearing its name isn't straying from the original formula of deep, meditative sounds and unnerving drum programming. While the cool kids are popping pills and frantically dancing to that modern garbage, I'll be in my room, soaking in the atmosphere of one of Britain's most brilliant and influential producers. 

If you're into ambient music, nevermind the dubstep label and give this a spin. Your nights will never be the same again. 

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