Anonymity was part of the initial lure of Burial, a dubstep producer from London. "I love...old jungle and garage tunes, when you didn't know anything about them, and nothing was between you and the tunes," Burial was quoted as saying in a rare interview (The Guardian, October 26, 2007). "I liked the mystery; it was more scary and sexy, the opposite of other music." Anonymity, of course, has long been a quality positively associated with electronic music, going back to early years of Detroit techno, when acts such as Underground Resistance and Drexciya veiled themselves in obscurity, and even farther back to Kraftwerk, who championed the notion, "We are the robots." So it's the back-story of Burial (or rather, the lack thereof), in addition to his music, that explains his great appeal to many of those well-versed in the traditions of electronic music.
Burial debuted in March 2005 on the Hyperdub label with the South London Borough EP, which included the tracks "Southern Comfort" and "Broken Home." These two tracks would be among the highlights of the full-length album Burial (2006), whose release was accompanied by a second EP, Distant Lights (2006). Comprising bleak, evocative dubstep -- one track, "Night Bus," entirely beatless, driven only by sample rainfall and eerie synth melodies -- Burial was critically acclaimed, and most notably voted Album of the Year by The Wire; it was also voted among the best albums of the year by Mixmag and was reviewed favorably. Burial's second album, Untrue (2007), was eagerly awaited as a result of all the acclaim; an EP, Ghost Hardware (2007), was released a few months in advance, drumming up further interest. Like its predecessor, Untrue was critically acclaimed, voted among the best albums of the year by XLR8R, for instance, and reviewed even more favorably than its predecessor. On the other hand, Untrue, also like its predecessor, proved polarizing, as more than a few -- especially those outside the media -- considered the album overhyped.
In February 2008, British newspaper The Independent made a claim that William Bevan, indeed a native of South London, was the individual behind Burial. Bevan later confirmed the report, continued to record under his alias, and issued several collaborative works with the likes of former schoolmate Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), Thom Yorke, Massive Attack, and Jamie Woon. He issued three additional Hyperdub EPs -- Street Halo, Kindred, and Truant -- in 2011 and 2012. A Japanese CD release combined the first two. Bevan's 2013 was quiet until that December, when he released a three-track EP for Hyperdub titled Rival Dealer. A single-sided 12" titled Temple Sleeper surfaced on Keysound in 2015. The following year, Burial collaborated with Zomby on a track called "Sweetz," which appeared on Zomby's Ultra album and was also released as a single. Later in the year, Burial's Young Death/Nightmarket arrived on Hyperdub. In April of 2017, Burial's remix of Goldie's jungle classic "Inner City Life" was released by Metalheadz. The following month, Burial's ambient Subtemple EP appeared on Hyperdub. He returned to beat-driven material in September with the garage-leaning single "Rodent," which was backed with a remix by Hyperdub boss Kode9. ~ Jason Birchmeier
- London, England