Had the Burial album for awhile but hadn't really got round to listening to it - as background music it doesn't work because it is background music, not wallpaper or Eno but literally the music of the background.
(Insert here a mix of the following: half-heard, calpol drips, dopplereffect car sounds, soliloquy for the M25 raves, rain-drenched taxi ranks, light pollution, soul-munching beats etc)
All true, of course and it's almost impossible to believe a kind of music that is less responsive to ambiguity in its reading: it is all those things above and intended to be and seems utterly resistant to any further understanding or philosophy. No interpretation necessary, not even when you consider that, in interview, Burial gives up that much of the input and images stem from meta-memory, that he never personally experienced the rave culture he's memorialising. This makes perfect sense; the vocal snatches are like the end product of Chinese Whispers; old e-soaked ravers on a permanent comedown, awaiting the results of longitudinal studies and neurological tests into how ecstacy effects their memory.
There's the Tricky comparisons, of course but in tracks like this
A Younsdenit DrownedSoundWorlding
I keep hearing Cranes, especially Cranes as heard under hash and bio-yogurt; Cranes as de Clerambault syndrome. The same smeared vocals, child-like echoes, the sound of calpol sliding onto a spoon in the middle of the night...
Which then led me to the image of the cranes flying overhead at the beginning of Lautreamont's Maldoror - Burial inhabits the same kind of world as Maldoror; half-real, half-imagined, schematic and partly skewed, sidereal. The same world transposed to a resolutely urban environment (one thing with Burial, it's impossible to imagine greenery when listening to it, the colours that are synaesthically beamed in are almost all shades of blue and grey and black - like some vaguely Ballardian motorway junction or conference centre that never ends).
No trees, no lakes except those caused by ruptures in concrete, no leaves, no grass.
But mostly, the greatest impression I get with Burial is that this is music that allows interruptions and absences - you can easily imagine the tracks skipping slightly or stopping and starting midway through and it wouldn't destroy the atmosophere of the track. There isn't much music that doesn't depend to a certain extent on flow but for this watery album flow could be absent entirely and I doubt anyone would notice. A bad mp3 rip might even enhance the spaciousness because Burial seems to be about holes, about absence. A few seconds of silence as an i-pod struggles and whirrs seems to me apt for this album and I'm sure I'm hearing more gaps than there are.