April 16, 2006

Dub housing

I'm trying to write about something else, I'm trying to listen to something else, but at the moment, it's all about Burial. The interview at Blackdown only adds to the intrigue ('Itís good to have girls liking it'; 'thereís no Ďmusicianshipí in my sound, thatís the enemy of my tunes'). It's Burial's ability to hold these two things together - the modernist rejection of 'music' and the drive to reconnect with a female audience - which goes some way to accounting for why his sound is so overpoweringly seductive. And also why it is a genuine inheritor of dub science. As I argue on Dissensus: 'the best dub always has a relationship to a certain sweetness of (the) Song. The white take-up of dub has often seemed to think that you can make dub more intense by entirely removing those elements and simply turning up the bass. A parallel error was made in jungle, when the inhuman-feminine cheesey rave elements were stripped out and you ended up with the rigor mortis of techstep. Course the point is that the bass sounds all the more powerful BY CONTRAST with those sweet elments (and the Song sounds all the more plaintive, all the more affecting for being disappeared in front of our ears - that's why the best dub is literally sublime).'

Autonomic for the People shares my enthusiasm, with a brilliant post that also forms part of the growing discussion about Burial Dissensus. I.T.: 'it just does sound like south London, from the seagulls to the reverberating car stereos to the mad muttering of psych-wards patients on day-release.'

Partly, it's the uncanniness of listening to a sound that so perfectly captures the feeling of the streets in which one lives that makes the LP so madly compelling. (But it's not as if it only reverberates for London listeners; for Autonomic, 'it's vividly reminiscent of growing up in Winnipeg near the train yards, and hearing their horns and screeches wafting for miles through the thick summer air.') In any case, it's starting to feel like Burial is the most important album since Dizzee's debut. But while Dizzee's sound was ultra-dry, all brittle percussion and harshly angular electronics, Burial's sound is smeary, blurred; and while Dizzee's depression was unmistakeably teenage in its orgins, Burial's sadness belongs to someone older. I'm reminded of Joy Division, not only because of the new-dawn-fades dreams-always-end mood, but also because of the way in which the production recalls Hannet's:

Autonomic on Burial: 'It reminds me of a car purposefully moving through a cold wet city night while a passenger stares, heart-in-throat, out the back window, remembering places and people as they pass.'

Jon Savage on Unknown Pleasures, 1979: 'Joy Division's spatial circular themes and Marint Hannett's shiny, waking dream production gloss are a perfect reflection of Manchester's dark spaces and empty places: endless sodium lights and semis seen from a speeding car, vacant industrial sites - the endless detritus of the 19th century - seen gaping like teeth from an orange bus.'

Posted by mark at April 16, 2006 09:59 PM | TrackBack