The mix is continually wreathed in the sound of rain and record static – a nostalgia for a future London flooded by global warming but still crackling with the disembodied sound of pirate radio. Numerous elements fade in and out of the labyrinthine mix: off kilter dubstep rhythms clatter around the bottom end whilst massively reverbed synth pads, sirens, spooked vocals, film samples and ghostly echoes all move and blur through the sonic void. Lachrymose melodies slide tantalizingly in and out of the tracks just often enough to leave the listener wanting more. The ghosts of recent black UK musical culture swirl around the aural stratosphere, haunting the mixing desk in a way that makes Burial a true inheritor of Tubby and Lee Perry's enveloping soundscapes.
The guy behind Burial claims that he only uses an early version of Sound Forge (which isn't even a sequencer) to craft his tracks. This is perhaps the modern equivalent of the early dub heads who used primitive equipment and effects in order to create their colossal tracks.
Dub is only one reference point though. Tracks like ‘Distant Lights’, ‘U Hurt Me’ and ‘Pirates’ are mood masterpieces that will appeal to fans of David Sylvian and Brian Eno as much as they will to lovers of Kode 9, Plasticman and the whole grime/dubstep project. Tellingly, the album's only really indifferent moment is the only vocal track in the set: ‘Spaceape’ features the dystopian raps of Hyperdub label stalwart er...Spaceape, but doesn't really soar like the rest of the album, which is, overall, one of this year's best and a classic of sustained urban atmospherics.
Sun / 27 Aug 2006