What is Burial’s music ‘about’? What does it ‘do’? Come to think of it, what is his music? What does it mean? Of course, all of this is up to the listener’s imagination, but for a while now there’s been a certain degree of consensus on the answers to these questions: Burial ‘mourns the death of rave’, his music is (to paraphrase a handful of commentators) a ‘plaintive echo from a bygone era of collective energy’, ‘a melancholy, ghostly memory of the faded promise of rave, drenched in weathering and mired in urban decay’.
It’s difficult, not to mention pointless, to argue that this reading of Burial, derived from ‘hauntology’, is invalid. Its validity seems confirmed by interviews with the guy, even if the interviewers sometimes do come across as a bit leading. To dispute this reading would be intolerant, even mean-spirited – it’s as a pallbearer for rave that Burial takes on a powerful meaning for many of his fans, and why argue with that? Of course to see Burial in this way you’d first have to agree that rave is in some sense dead, and that’s a hotly disputed point. It’s a question I won’t try and answer here, largely because at the time rave was in its generally accepted heyday I was just getting into solid foods, but being reluctant to sit down and accept that I’ve arrived at a time when musical culture has declined almost to worthlessness, the ‘death of rave’ angle on Burial doesn’t really have any definitive meaning for me per se.
It’s a reading that’s solidifying into a naturalised collective interpretation of Burial though – his image within culture and history is being covered in six feet of earth. But this fresh, living and newborn voice still has a lot more to offer than the corpse of rave. There’s Burial the Pallbearer, but there are other Burials too…
// It just keeps going… all the way to Whistler’s “Nocturne in Grey and Gold: Westminster Bridge”. Epic. And deserving a bridge to the future. (Whether or not Four Tet = Burial).
So, for now, we loop Jamie’s rmx of “Reconsider”… //