15. December 2019
Despite it being 12 years since Burial released his genre defining second, and most recent, album Untrue, he has continued to release new music on EP. His new album Tunes 2011-2019 pulls together most of those tracks into a single coherent collection.
Compilations aren’t normally my thing, I find that they often misrepresent an artists output as an out of context collection of “biggest hits”, omitting many of the tracks that made the artist interesting in the first place. But as this compilation was put together by Burial himself, it represents more than just a cash grab, and gives the tracks added resonance by ordering them in a specifically selected sequence.
Falling into the wafer-thin post-rave intersection between ambient dubstep and hauntology, the tracks here have a poignancy that may only be truly felt by people of a certain age.
The more “traditional” hauntology of, say, Belbury Poly or The Focus Group takes as its reference point the public information films, children’s TV shows and modernist designs of the 1970s. For those born in the rough era between 1965 and 1975 (which includes me), these artists’ work evokes a barely remembered childhood of Fab lollies, optimism and confusingly abstract TV.
For that same group of people, in their 20s at the height of rave, the work of Burial provides another Proustian time warp, this time dropping us back into what we think are our memories of an overcrowded warehouse in Sheffield.
Burial takes rave as his raw material and refracts it through an echo-chamber of memory softening mechanisms to produce something that hints at concrete memories of something that was never quite there. The hazily-remembered remnants of vocal hooks cut adrift from their original melodies and swamped in a fog of reverb, the ever-present rumble of a vast deserted hangar or underground bunker, even the song structures that seem to mutate beyond recognition in the progress of individual tracks cause a sense of dislocation, while the endlessly skittering hats add a sense of unease.
This exploration of the memory of memories, the misremembered past and the reliving of old supposed glories ties in neatly with The Caretaker’s work on his Haunted Ballroom series of albums (culminating with this years stage 6 of Everywhere at the End of Time)