Saturday, November 24, 2007

Burial - the ghosts of what

I just picked up the new Burial album from emusic. On first listen, it's beautiful and genius. Trip-hop seemed to burn itself out fairly quickly back in the mid-90s, largely because the darkness at the heart of artists like Tricky got turned into premillenial lounge music in the hands of halfsteppers. But now we've got not half, not even whole, but even two-steppers, with their stuttering and woozy and delicate beats (as opposed to the monolithic slowdeath of the trip-hoppers). It's ghostly - as has been mentioned by many a blogger, haunted by what exists behind it, what is left out. The vocals are ripped out of context, one or two melodic words clipped and shorn of context, their meaning carried in semiotic echoes that are echoed by audio echoes (a self-enfolding tripling of signifying tactics).

An impolitic question - what are the chances that Burial is a black guy (or even girl)? The desperate and bereft emotion of the music is such that - well, rewind. The evidence is there in the music, a communication of the beautiful and totalizing loss and reclamation that has taken on the name "blackness." The sound somehow conjures images of shadows, of second selves and contradictory identities.


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