TIME + PLACE Liner Notes: Untrue by Burial
In “Liner Notes”, Rowan Lees (Azere) follows his interview with his own piece, tributing the work that has influenced and inspired him and his project, time + place.
Burial is so entrenched an influence in my music I almost forgot to consider that they were really the catalyst for the whole idea of time + place.
When I first listened to Untrue, Burial’s second full album, I was swallowed up entirely by its ingenuity. One of those pieces of art you wish you could experience for the first time over and over again. Gently swelling atmospheres, knocking garage drums never in perfect pattern, and haunting vocal samples are three identifiable tenets of the album, but there’s a spectral magic to it all that I am failing to do justice with words. The songs never remain on tempo, they move and sway and delicately click back into place, an almost unnoticeable detail for all but the edgiest of DJs trying to beatmatch. The human voice too is introduced to the music with such a curious warped manner of sampling that you’d be hard-pressed to identify Beyoncé, D’angelo or Ray J in all the grand compositions.
The whole direction of the music was like nothing I had heard before, an approach that could be attributed to Bevan’s solid rock love for the London rave scene of the 90s and the cyclic 2-step drum patterns which populated the ears of its ravers, a style which Burial freshens with a more introspective and emotional quality. His affectionate ardour for the foggy warmth of the afterparty, and for the awkward searing cold of the comedown, combine to create a musical experience like the warm glow you might feel in the seat of a bus departing in time to meet the sunrise, piecing together artefacts of the night in an order that’ll make a decent story to tell.
I think myself and so many other artists and listeners have been swallowed up in the same way by the vast, spectral, landscape Burial painted of London (and the world outside of it) before being spat out anew feeling a little smaller in our worlds, and with a renewed sense of awe. London to Burial is what Edinburgh was to Robert Burns, Istanbul to Orhan Pamuk, what Victorian London was to Charles Dickens. Burial is like the UK-Garage-scene Charles Dickens.
I learnt so much from taking in the albums and EPs of Burial, not just of production style and technical ingenuity, but of the depth of emotion that can be conveyed with purely sound. These words from How To Dress Well express it perfectly:
“Untrue kind of brought to completion a thought I had been developing listening to experimental and ambient music for years: paradoxically when sound is unburdened of its task of having to fit in as music, its musical potential actually becomes unrestricted and infinite. This point can be seen at so many levels across this record: consider the vocal performances alone, if you can call them that, and the way they express pure infinite affect.”
If there’s one thing I wanted to achieve in making time + place it was to empower introverted people, which is exactly what Burial did for me. Having begun to release my own lyric-based music at the start of the year, a realisation sank into me that I find it easier to express myself with complete wordlessness sometimes. That is what Untrue represented to me when I heard it for the first time and that is the idea I hoped to represent with my own effort at ambient music. It is established science that introverts need time alone and moments of quiet to recharge and when I think back to some of the best experiences like these I’ve had in my own company, Burial has been the soundtrack. Songs like a still, moonlit lake, and no words to muddy the waters.