Musician William Emmanuel Bevan, better known as Burial, has been a significant founder and contributor to the British Electronica scene since his scintillating work 2007's Untrue. His works have made him one of the most acclaimed, influential, and enigmatic Electronica musicians of the 21st century. Burial's latest release Antidawn is his longest offering in years. Although labelled an EP, The forty-four-minute length suggests this is Burial's long-awaited third album.
Antidawn is loaded with Burial's signature sounds and unique musical structures that he has perfected over his extensive catalogue. Here again, he combines dark emotions, melancholy and stream of consciousness for an ambient masterwork. Never one to make it easy on his fans, the release requires repeated listens to catch all the nuances and subtly placed within, and headphones are a must to capture each detail. It is a work for those already won over by his brilliance.
Antidawn launches with a chilled rain-filled landscape that will be ever-present throughout the playlist. The listener is escorted through states of consciousness that cycle in and out of the recording. There is heartbreak, unrequited love, and sentiments buried fearing exposure throughout. The lengthy first track, "Strange Neighborhood", reflects our current unsure existence along with humankind's search for acceptance. The track is pulled around the dream, reflecting a stream of consciousness narrative that pages through thoughts, stimuli, emotions and feeling with no control, no rhythm or reason.
Burial marries our predicament to the grayscale of winter as the characters in the song search for someone to care or intervene. On this song and throughout the release, Burial is going beyond the conventions of Electronica to labour in a field of his own, making working with multi-part suites a world away from the linear dance music he utilized at the beginning of his career.
The title track "Antidawn" speaks to the lonely, abandoned and overlooked. Begins by stating, "I've been in a bad place with nowhere to go". The selection displays the forgotten, undervalued individuals that inhabit the night; they are loaded with regret for the paths taken that have brought them to desolation. These musings are backed up with nuances like the constant rain, deep coughs, lighters ignited, lonely footsteps in the street. Burial lets up just slightly on the gloom at the end of the track with ethereal sounds that bleed into the next track.
"Shadow Paradise" is slightly and ever so slightly more upbeat. It is loaded with swirling, soaring organs. It is expansive and panoramic in feel as the track moves from day into night. At first, it asks for comfort with the lyric "Let me hold you for a while" and ends with "Take me into the night". "New Love" again is brighter, offering a dreamlike gossamer feeling. A faint heartbeat is the only rhythm as wonky keyboards and layered vocals ponder the past and future. The final track, "Upstairs Flat", has atmospherics galore and a grand cathedral-like finish. The overall narrative of the song presents an individual who comes the narrator's way but leaves, and the track ends with the ever-present rain and the plea "Come back to me".
Burial is an undisputed master of the Ambient/Electronica genre, and Antidawn is playing way above the heads of anyone else in the field. He utilizes an ever-expanding nothingness to ponder deep universal feelings, absence, yearning, unease. Antidawn is a work that reveals more with every listen and is not intended to wow the pop charts. Instead, it is a work displaying an artist free from constraints showing all that he has attained and all he has learned along the way, pushing the envelope another couple of inches. Burial with Antidawn has created another achingly British release but conversely is achingly universal.
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