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burial - Untrue
That difficult second album then. Not content with having to follow-up on the success of his staggering debut, the kind of uncontrollable hyperbole electronic musicians have rarely had to deal with and the small matter of keeping his identity concealed from all but his closest friends (and some of those apparently don't even know), Burial has just gone and produced an album that appeared on first listen to satisfy even our most unreasonable expectations and, on repeat play, surpass them. "Untrue" is a much more emotive beast than its eponymous predecessor, a mood augmented by the vocal emphasis present on all but the short interlude tracks included on the cd edition. The most startling of these is the much-discussed "Archangel", a track framed by one of Burial's most devastating submerged-woodblock rhythms to date and devoured by an androgynous auto-tuned vocal that not only highlights Burial's spiritual descendance from UK Garage and 2-step but also his uncanny ability to create archetypal songs from the darkest, most foreign ingredients. As the legend goes, these pieces were all recorded deep into the night and the uncontrollable sense of loneliness and longing seeps out of every pore of this incredible collection of tracks. There's an overwhelming sense that, much like the abandoned streets and hazy luminescence of early-hours London, all normal rules of engagement have been suspended both musically and spiritually. This is music with a powerful, almost narcotic urge to connect with the outside world, like an emotional sleep-paralysis that imbues these pieces with an outsider aesthetic that seems neither forced nor self-aware, but beautifully ingenuous. And this is ultimately why (despite almost universal acclaim and legions of followers) no one has even attempted to copy Burial's signature sound - it's so removed from the everyday, daylight machinations of music-making that to have done so would have just been absurd. Towards the end of the album the majestic narcosis of the title track (an incredible piece of music that seems to squash a million different emotions into a barely contained mass of midnight percussion and exhausted narrative) makes way for "Shell of Light" - the cathartic turning point of the album and a quietly overwhelming push into slowly emerging daylight. The effect is both joyous and utterly startling, and ultimately extremely moving. Beyond all the myth-making and emotive resonance - "Untrue" is also an album that manages to offer percussive innovation and a submerged deviant funk that you will be as powerless to resist as we were on first listen - and if a better album has been released in 2007, we've yet to hear it. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.