'Burial Tunes 2011-2019' an Album Review - Mihir Kaulgud

Updated: Apr 1

Nowhere. A geographical nowhere transposed to a mental nowhere: astray, disaffected, uprooted.Burial never made city music as much as underbelly music, humming with the crackle of quietness in the heart of alienation and radiating improbable warmth in the middle of a rain that soaks into your skin.

Burial’s music has often been characterized as being out-of-joint in both time and space. Walking into the aftermath of a party, everyone has gone home but the music is hanging in the air. Or in my case, there are protests raging at ‘home’, a place towards which I always felt a deep (un)belonging. Regardless, I’m halfway across the world, walking in the woods. It’s a bit mad to feel Burial’s disjointed-ness. Tunes...is just as enveloping as before, but also immensely sensual this time, a texture cloak you enter for safety and bliss.

This compilation is sadder and heavier than Burial’s 2009 masterpiece Untrue. But now the bleakness is married to a palpable undercurrent of a brave and dangerous joy. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was always lurking at the fringes. The music asks you to walk ahead with the knowledge that someone or something is behind you. A music to fall back on. The archangel, an unsettling motif from Untrue, seems more present than ever here. Maybe Burial is our archangel and now he is spreading his wings in reassuring, commanding majesty. He is calling us to glimpse a new world. Or it is this world that Burial manages to warp into desirability. What stands before us is undeniably a work of unparalleled craftsmanship and beauty.

In the ten years after Untrue, Burial has taken the skeletons of that album’s garage beats and it’s ambient moments — sitting in alone in a McDonald’s late at night — and turned them into mutant collages. The old-anew: these songs seduce us to build other worlds through this one coming to ruin, the one that makes you. To build other worlds, using the rubble around us as bricks.

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