Few artists have created such visual imagery through their music, like London-producer Burial. Drawing inspiration from the mixtapes of his rave-obsessed older brother, Burial crafted a niche that pays homage to the various club subcultures of mid 90s UK. Stretched vocal samples from RnB vocalists, blurring the line between male and female, washed in ambient, futuristic synth pads are ingredients that paint the landscape of Burial’s dark world.
In 2006, the UK was deep into the dubstep movement, clubs were full of sub-bass frequencies and large sounds, yet Burial was like an anomaly in the scene. His self-titled album like a deep intake of breath, was a pause from the hectic sounds around him. Going against the flow, he brought something new to the electronic genre.
Not too much is known about the artist itself. He has done very few interviews and no TV appearances at all. He doesn’t DJ or play on festivals. Burial also doesn’t participate in social media, since he is very protective about his personal life, and to me personally, that is something to admire.
Following up with his now classic album Untrue, Burial further refined his sounds, creating a warmer and soulful selection of tracks, yet still dark and moody. It was this mixture between the light and dark that kept his music interesting, walking a fine line between these polar opposites and creating unique tracks that many have tried imitating since then.
Burial is known as a genius of sampling, because his sources of inspiration and the way he utilizes those samples was unheard of at the time. From the absurdist movies of acclaimed director David Lynch to the sound effects of PlayStation, nothing is safe from the grasp of this enigmatic artist.
“A lot of my drums are just people picking up new ammo and weapons in games. I love shells falling to the floor, power-ups, like when you get extra life. It would be good if you could do that in real life: pick up extra lives, fight end-of-level-guardians down by the shops, use cheat-modes.” – Burial
A game that permeates through the discography of Burial is Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear solid series. The second track, Archangel, from his album Untrue samples directly from the soundtrack. And rather than settle for conventional drum samples, he hunts through the games of his childhood, chopping out sounds of gun fights, and warping the vocals from horror games like Silent Hill.
Personally, I love Burial’s music because of the ambience his tracks resonate. In a dark rainy day, Burial is my go to artist to listen to. I will end this article with his take on rain.
“I like Blade Runner but I’m only obsessed with one scene in it, the bit where he’s sitting at those cafes in the rain. I love rain, like being out in it. Sometimes you just go out in the cold, there’s a light in the rain, and you’ve got this little heaven…” – Burial