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Music / Burial

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Burial (real name: William Emmanuel Bevan) is a South London-based musician commonly attributed to the genres of dubstep and future garage. He was the very first artist signed to Kode9's Hyperdub label in 2005.

Bevan is primarily known for his two highly acclaimed studio albums (Burial and Untrue), both of which are hailed as some of the greatest of their decade/genre, and his impressively enigmatic persona. He has never played a live show, rarely accepts interviews and makes few public appearances.

It took a borderline witch-hunt among UK tabloids to unearth his identity after several years of complete anonymity; even then, only three good photos of him exist on the Internet to this day (aside from the page image, cropped from a picture with Kode9, there's also his MySpace profile picture and this straightforward selfie).

Bevan has a distinctive sound composed of pitch-shifted vocal samples and meticulous breakbeat patterns surrounded by vinyl crackle and rainfall, making for more atmospheric and intimate listening experiences compared to his contemporaries. His tracks are often described as being like the soundtrack to cyberpunk or film noir, which is an apt description.

He also claims to make nearly all of his music in the audio editor Soundforge, disavowing the traditional trackers and sequencers that eventually brought Drum and Bass to a creative standstill.

Bevan has collaborated with several other dubstep and drum-and-bass artists, and plans have been announced to have him remix Massive Attack's Heligoland, though when this will occur is anyone's guess. The release of a limited-edition 12" featuring two, roughly 10 minute long remixes of two Massive Attack songs (one released, one unreleased) have led many to wonder whether it is the end product of the album collaboration rumours.

After Untrue, he shifted his focus to longer, more progressive songs, frequently lasting for over 10 minutes and often released in EP formats.



  • Burial: 2006: Hyperdub Records
  • Untrue: 2007: Hyperdub


  • South London Boroughs: 2005: Hyperdub
  • Distant Lights: 2006: Hyperdub
  • Ghost Hardware: 2007: Hyperdub
  • Moth/Wolf Cub (with Four Tet): 2009: Text [sold in black LP sleeves with no artist information]
  • Ego/Mirror (with Four Tet and Thom Yorke): 2011: Hyperdub
  • Street Halo: 2011: Hyperdub
  • Four Walls / Paradise Circus (remixing Massive Attack): 2011: Inhale Gold
  • Kindred: 2012: Hyperdub
  • Truant / Rough Sleeper: 2012: Hyperdub
  • Rival Dealer: 2013: Hyperdub

Burial's music contains example of:

  • Ambient: "Night Bus", "Forgive", "Endorphin", "In McDonalds", "Dog Shelter", and "UK".
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: "Etched Headplate," "Truant," "Rival Dealer"
  • Arc Words: The phrase "come down to us" appears on all three tracks on Rival Dealer.
  • Book Ends: The self-titled album begins and ends with a skit called "Untitled" which features a mysterious line sampled from a movie.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The reason he uses Soundforge is, according to the man himself, that he simply can't make good music on a traditional DAW.note 
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album art for Untrue.
  • Drone of Dread: "Kindred"
  • Echoing Acoustics: A staple of his music. He especially likes treating his vocal samples with a nice, spacey reverb.
  • Epic Rocking: He seems to really enjoy making long songs post-Untrue. The shortest song on the Kindred EP is seven and a half minutes long. "Ashtray Wasp," "Kindred," "Truant," "Rough Sleeper," "Paradise Circus," and "Four Walls" are all between ten and twelve minutes long.
  • The Ghost: Has a quite impressive anonymity, considering only three pictures of him exist on the Internet.
  • Hidden Track: A remix of Massive Attack's "Psyche" is hidden at the end of his "Paradise Circus" remix.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Often invoked with his vocal samples, which are edited and processed to emphasize sound over perfect enunciation.
  • Looped Lyrics: A staple of his music.
  • Mistaken Identity: Before he revealed his identity, British tabloids speculated that he was Richard D. James or Norman Cook.
  • One-Woman Wail: More like one...androgynous, cyber-vocal wail.
  • One-Word Title: The titles of his albums alongside his Rodent EP.
  • Precision F-Strike: In "Spaceape":
    Big people a talk nobody try to fuck with I-man clarity
  • Sampling: Done frequently with vocals, which are usually unrecognizable by the time Burial is done with them, as they are usually pitch shifted into androgynous, shifting wails.
  • Secret Identity: A rare musical example. It didn't last long, though — in 2008 he was revealed to be William Bevan.
    • Bevan said he kept his anonymity to focus the attention on his music instead of him, and decided to drop it when he felt it became too much of an issue.
  • Self-Deprecation: Used frequently in his few public statements. One time, he claimed that he uses the sound of rainfall in his music so much to hide its "lameness".
  • Self-Titled Album: His debut album in 2006.
  • Signature Style: Rumbling and off-kilter percussion, unintelligible and reverb-drenched vocal samples, optional rain in the background.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The "there's something out there" sample originally appeared in the bleak "Loner." It returns in a much more joyous context at the climax of "Come Down to Us," which (along with the rest of the Rival Dealer EP) was intended as "anti bullying tunes."
  • You Are Not Alone: The point of Rival Dealer, said verbatim in "Come Down to Us." It's aimed at transgender teenagers.