Burial (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Birth name William Emmanuel Bevan
Origin South London, England, United Kingdom
Genres Dubstep, UK garage, 2-step, future garage
Occupation(s) Record producer, musician
Instruments Personal computer[1]
Years active 2001-present[2]
Labels Hyperdub
Associated acts Kode9, Four Tet, Jamie Woon, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke

William Emmanuel Bevan,[3][4] known by his recording alias Burial, is an electronic recording artist from South London. Drawing inspiration from 90's UK rave music and pirate radio culture, Bevan was the first artist to sign to Kode9's electronic label Hyperdub. Initially remaining anonymous behind his pseudonym, he first received widespread recognition for the release of his eponymous debut album in 2006;[5] it was awarded album of the year by The Wire in addition to garnering accolades from the wider music press.[6]

Burial's second album, Untrue, was released to critical acclaim in 2007, and was the second-highest rated album of that year according to aggregate site Metacritic.[7] In 2008, Bevan's identity was revealed by The Independent. In recent years, he has gone on to collaborate with artists such as Four Tet, Massive Attack, and Thom Yorke in addition to having released a series of acclaimed long-form EPs.


A fan of the music featured on the Hyperdub website, Bevan began sending Steve Goodman (a.k.a. Kode9) letters and CD-Rs of his home-made music around 2001.[8] In 2005, the label released the South London Burroughs 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".[9] In February 2008, The Independent reported that Burial was an alumnus of South London's Elliott School.[3][10] The school's alumni also include Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), with whom Bevan has collaborated.

On 22 July 2008, The Guardian reported that Burial was a nominee for the 2008 Mercury Music Prize for his second album, Untrue.[11] 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.[12][13] 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.

Composition and sound[edit]

Bevan claims to compose nearly all his music in SoundForge, a digital audio editor, and to eschew the use of trackers and sequencers. Journalist Derek Walmsley stated in The Wire:

An excerpt from 'Ghost Hardware', demonstrating Burial's use of crackle, shuffle, and manipulated vocal samples.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Inspired by the darkside drum'n'bass of the Metalheadz label, 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.[14]

DJ-Kicks release[edit]

On 21 April 2008, the news about a forthcoming DJ-Kicks release on !K7 Records (!K7CD227 out 23 June 2008 in the UK[15] and 8 July 2008 in the US[16]) appeared on different blogs and fan websites. The CD was not released on those dates, but there was official confirmation of the postponed release in early August 2008 on the DJ-Kicks website.[17] The only statement from Burial regarding the release was on MySpace, stating "fake djkicks tracklist got put up somewhere i got messages from people & producers thinking it was real. if i do djkicks it will be mostly old jungle tunes & new tunes. big up". A new release date was then set for 11 November 2008, later moved to 6 January 2009, and then postponed again until further notice.

On 21 July 2011 Flying Lotus posted a track on Soundcloud which was supposedly intended for Burial's DJ-Kicks mix.[18] In a post on the DJ-Kicks website later the same day a photo was published showing paper record sleeves printed with the Burial logo and it was stated that "the reality of a Burial DJ-Kicks doesn’t seem to be any closer", but still there was hope that "someday there will be something to actually put into one of these empty bags".[19]

Massive Attack collaboration[edit]

On 10 February 2010 Massive Attack's Daddy G[20] said they were planning a remix album with Burial regarding their latest release 'Heligoland' .

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.[21][22]

Post-Untrue change of direction[edit]

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 the Massive Attack collaboration Four Walls / Paradise Circus, and subsequent solo EPs Kindred, Truant / Rough Sleeper and Rival Dealer. Each of these EPs was met with critical acclaim, with Kindred being singled out in particular as a landmark release.[23][24][25]

In early 2014 Burial uploaded a photograph of himself accompanied with a message for his fans promising new music on Hyperdub's website.[26] In 2015 Burial released a new single 'Temple Sleeper' on Keysound Recordings.

Rumoured live appearance[edit]

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,[27] with media immediately picking up the story.[28] Hyperdub Records responded on Twitter by saying that it "must be Kode9",[29] who in turn denied that he performed to Pitchfork's Philip Sherburne.[30] 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".[31] Unsound Festival didn't comment on the situation, leaving the artist profile blank, which led to continuing speculation about the event.


Main article: Burial discography

Studio albums[edit]



  1. ^ Fisher, Mark.Burial: Unedited Transcript Wire magazine. Retrieved on 21 January 2007.
  2. ^ Burial (CD Back Cover Notes). Burial. London, UK: Hyperdub. 2006. HDBCD001. 
  3. ^ a b Brown, Jonathan; Lucy Kinnear (11 February 2008). "The real school of rock". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  4. ^ "The Top 50 Albums of 2013". Pitchfork Media. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  5. ^ IMO Records "Burial Biography", IMO Records, London, 20 October 2011. Retrieved on 22 November 2011.
  6. ^ various critics (October 2006). "Rewind 2006". The Wire (275). Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  7. ^ Best Albums of 2007. Metacritic.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-02.
  8. ^ Electronic Beats
  9. ^ Hancox, Dan. "Only five people know I make tunes". The Guardian, 26 October 2007. Retrieved on 21 January 2008.
  10. ^ Parkin, Chris (2 October 2006). "Hot Chip: interview". Time Out London. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  11. ^ Mercury Prize Nominations. Blogs.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  12. ^ "Help me dig up the real Burial". The Sun. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  13. ^ Sisson, Patrick (18 January 2010). "Pitchfork interviews Four Tet". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  14. ^ Derek Walmsley, "Dubstep", The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music, ed. Rob Young, London: Verso, 2009, p. 92.
  15. ^ Backspin Promotions Blog: Burial–DJ-Kicks. 21 April 2008
  16. ^ Backspin promotions: Burial–DJ-Kicks–!K7[dead link]
  17. ^ Burial DJ-KiCKS (!K7CD227). Dj-kicks.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  18. ^ Flying Lotus – buriedMIX2 //burial dj kicks??'08 by Flyinglotus on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free. Soundcloud.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  19. ^ Flying Lotus Posts A Track Intended For Burial. DJ-Kicks (2011-07-21). Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  20. ^ ClashMusic–Massive Attack. Clashmusic.com (2009-10-02). Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  21. ^ Four Walls – Massive Attack vs Burial ltd. edition 12″ « Massive Attack Blog. Massiveattack.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  22. ^ Four Walls / Paradise Circus – Massive Attack vs Burial – The VinylFactory Editions Shop. Vfeditions.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  23. ^ Burial – Truant / Rough Sleeper | The Skinny TheSkinny.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-13
  24. ^ Metacritic - Burial's Scores Metacritic.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-13
  25. ^ Burial – Album Reviews | Pitchfork Media Pitchfork.com. Retrieved on 2013-12-13
  26. ^ Battan, Carrie (31 January 2014). "Burial Posts Selfie and Long Note Teasing New Music". Pitchfork. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  27. ^ https://twitter.com/louispattison/status/654717110833143810
  28. ^ http://www.factmag.com/2015/10/15/did-burial-just-play-unsound/
  29. ^ https://twitter.com/Hyperdub/status/654752175214620673
  30. ^ http://pitchfork.com/features/photo-galleries/9740-buried-alive-unlocking-the-mysteries-of-polands-unsound-festival/
  31. ^ http://www.thefader.com/2015/10/16/burial-did-not-play-unsound

External links[edit]