|Birth name||William Emmanuel Bevan|
|Origin||South London, England, United Kingdom|
William Emmanuel Bevan, known by his recording alias Burial, is an electronic recording artist from South London. Initially remaining anonymous, Burial became the first artist signed to Kode9's electronic label Hyperdub in 2005. He released his self-titled debut album, which drew inspiration from UK rave music and pirate radio culture, to acclaim in 2006, including the album of the year award by The Wire. Burial's second album, Untrue, was released to further critical acclaim in 2007.
In 2008, Bevan's identity was revealed by The Independent and confirmed by Hyperdub. In recent years, he has gone on to collaborate with artists such as Four Tet, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke and Zomby in addition to releasing a series of acclaimed long-form EPs, including Kindred (2012) and Rival Dealer (2013). He has remained reclusive, giving few interviews and avoiding public appearances.
Early career: self-titled debut and Untrue
Bevan grew up a fan of old school jungle and garage, having been introduced to UK rave music by his older brothers. Despite never having attended a rave himself, he remained preoccupied by the music. In a rare interview with The Wire, he explained:
I was brought up on old jungle tunes and garage tunes that had lots of vocals in but me and my brothers loved intense, darker tunes too, I found something I could believe in... but sometimes I used to listen to the ones with vocals on my own and it was almost a secret thing [...] My brother might bring back these records that seemed really adult to me and I couldn’t believe I had ‘em. It was like when you first saw Terminator or Alien when you're only little. I’d get a rush from it, I was hearing this other world...
Bevan began sending Steve Goodman (a.k.a. Kode9) letters and CD-Rs of his home-made music around 2001, having been a fan of the music featured on Goodman's Hyperdub website. In 2005, the label released the South London Boroughs EP, which collected tracks recorded by Burial for several years prior. Burial's self-titled 2006 debut album was the first full-length release on Hyperdub. Despite early acclaim, Burial initially remained anonymous, and said in an early interview that "only five people know I make tunes". In February 2008, The Independent reported that Burial was an alumnus of South London's Elliott School. The school's alumni also include Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), with whom Bevan has collaborated.
On 22 July 2008, it was announced Burial was a nominee for the 2008 Mercury Music Prize for his second album, Untrue. There was much Mercury Prize-related coverage in tabloid newspapers in the UK, including speculation that Burial was either Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) or Norman Cook. The Independent eventually reported Burial's identity as William Bevan, a resident of South London. Bevan eventually confirmed the information and posted a picture of himself on his MySpace page on 5 August 2008. A blog entry stated, "I'm a lowkey person and I just want to make some tunes", as well as announcing a forthcoming four-track 12″, and thanking his fans for their support up to this point. On 9 September 2008, Elbow won the award in question.
Rather than releasing a third album, Burial has spent the years since Untrue releasing increasingly lengthy and more experimental individual tracks. This began with Moth / Wolf Cub, a collaboration with Four Tet, and Burial's own track Fostercare and EP Street Halo. He then developed this practice, experimenting with multi-part suites rather than conventional songs on a Massive Attack collaboration and subsequent solo EPs Kindred (2012), Truant / Rough Sleeper (2012) and Rival Dealer (2013). Each of these EPs was met with critical acclaim, with Kindred being singled out in particular as a landmark release.
|“||What the plan is... you know that Mad Professor record that we did [1995's No Protection]? Essentially trying to get that together, where Burial essentially remixes quite a lot of the new tracks. Brings out a different version of quite a lot of the tracks that we've done||”|
On 10 October 2011 Massive Attack announced the release of a 12-inch single in collaboration with Burial with the two tracks "Four Walls" and "Paradise Circus". Massive Attack posted the track "Four Walls" on their website. The record, with sleeve designed by Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja (3D), was limited to 1000 copies and sold out on the first day of pre-sale.
In 2014 Burial uploaded a photograph of himself accompanied with a message for his fans promising new music on Hyperdub's website. In 2015 Burial released a new single "Temple Sleeper" on Keysound Recordings. A new EP, "Young Death/ Nightmarket" was released in late November 2016.
Rumoured live appearance
There was speculation that Burial played his first live show at Unsound Festival, Krakow on 15 October 2015 during its Surprise-themed edition, featuring many unannounced artists. The show at the Wieliczka Salt Mine featured recent Burial music, as well as what sounded like unreleased material from the artist, but it was not clear where the performer was situated. Music journalist Louis Pattison was among the first to live Tweet that Burial might be performing, with media immediately picking up the story. Hyperdub Records responded on Twitter by saying that it "must be Kode9", who in turn denied that he performed to Pitchfork's Philip Sherburne. He later told the Fader's Aimee Cliff that "Burial has never performed live or DJ'd, was not at Unsound, and has no plans to play anywhere in the future". Unsound Festival didn't comment on the situation, leaving the artist profile blank, which led to continuing speculation about the event.
Style and composition
Bevan claims to compose nearly all his music in SoundForge, a digital audio editor, and to eschew the use of trackers and sequencers. As he describes the process in an interview, "Once I change something, I can never un-change it. I can only see the waves. So I know when I’m happy with my drums because they look like a nice fishbone. When they look just skeletal as fuck in front of me, and so I know they’ll sound good." He also said that he didn't use a sequencer, because if his drums were timed too perfectly, they would "lose something" and "sound rubbish". Discussing his rhythmic affinities in an interview with writer Mark Fisher, Burial stated that:
Something happens when I hear the subs, the rolling drums and vocals together. To me it’s like a pure UK style of music, and I wanted to make tunes based on what UK underground hardcore tunes mean to me, and I want a dose of real life in there too, something people can relate to.
Of his production techniques, journalist Derek Walmsley wrote in The Wire:
An excerpt from 'Ghost Hardware', demonstrating Burial's use of crackle, shuffle, and manipulated vocal samples.
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Burial decided at the outset to avoid at all costs the rigid, mechanistic path that eventually brought drum 'n' bass to a standstill. To this end, his percussion patterns are intuitively arranged on the screen rather than rigidly quantized, creating minute hesitations and slippages in the rhythm. His snares and hi-hats are covered in fuzz and phaser, like cobwebs on forgotten instruments, and the mix is rough and ready rather than endlessly polished. Perhaps most importantly, his basslines sound like nothing else on Earth. Distorted and heavy, yet also warm and earthy, they resemble the balmy gust of air that precedes an underground train.
- South London Boroughs (2005)
- Distant Lights (2006)
- Ghost Hardware (2007)
- Street Halo (2011)
- Kindred (2012)
- Truant / Rough Sleeper (2012)
- Rival Dealer (2013)
- Young Death / Nightmarket (2016)
- Fisher, Mark.Burial: Unedited Transcript Wire magazine. Retrieved on 21 January 2007.
- Burial (CD Back Cover Notes). Burial. London, UK: Hyperdub. 2006. HDBCD001.
- Brown, Jonathan; Lucy Kinnear (11 February 2008). "The real school of rock". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- "The Top 50 Albums of 2013". Pitchfork Media. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- IMO Records "Burial Biography" Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine., IMO Records, London, 20 October 2011. Retrieved on 22 November 2011.
- various critics (October 2006). "Rewind 2006". The Wire (275). Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- Best Albums of 2007. Metacritic.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-02.
- Stonham, Buster. "Review: Burial - Truant / Rough Sleeper". Music Factory Number One. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
- The Wire
- Electronic Beats
- Hancox, Dan. "Only five people know I make tunes". The Guardian, 26 October 2007. Retrieved on 21 January 2008.
- Parkin, Chris (2 October 2006). "Hot Chip: interview". Time Out London. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- Mercury Prize Nominations. Blogs.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
- "Help me dig up the real Burial". The Sun. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Sisson, Patrick (18 January 2010). "Pitchfork interviews Four Tet". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- Burial – Truant / Rough Sleeper | The Skinny TheSkinny.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-13
- Metacritic - Burial's Scores Metacritic.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-13
- Burial – Album Reviews | Pitchfork Media Pitchfork.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-13
- ClashMusic–Massive Attack. Clashmusic.com (2009-10-02). Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
- Four Walls – Massive Attack vs Burial ltd. edition 12″ « Massive Attack Blog Archived 12 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Massiveattack.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
- Four Walls / Paradise Circus – Massive Attack vs Burial – The VinylFactory Editions Shop. Vfeditions.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
- Battan, Carrie (31 January 2014). "Burial Posts Selfie and Long Note Teasing New Music". Pitchfork. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- The Wire
- Derek Walmsley, "Dubstep", The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music, ed. Rob Young, London: Verso, 2009, p. 92.
- Twells, John (15 May 2016). "Burial turns 10: The roots of a dubstep masterpiece". Fact Magazine.
- Hyperdub Records – official site
- Burial discography at Discogs
- Burial on SoundCloud
- Burial interview from BlackDownSoundBoy blog, 2006
- Burial interview by Mark Fisher from The Wire magazine, the unedited transcript (edited version published in The Wire issue 286, December 2007)