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An ode to Burial’s ‘Ghost Hardware’

“That record, this mix, it all fits together"

  • Jasmine Kent-Smith
  • 12 May 2017

Wait just a second before you glaze your eyes over the title, rolling them at the thought of yet another anniversary ode to electronica’s emotional enigma. ‘Untrue’, Burial’s sophomore album on Hyperdub, turns 10 this upcoming November, however his ‘Ghost Hardware’ EP foreshadowed the release, debuting back in June ‘07. And quite frankly, I couldn’t wait until the winter to give my unsolicited opinion on why Burial still bangs - so here goes.

There isn’t much more to be said about William Bevan, (or Burial to you and me) that hasn’t been mused over in forums and long-reads alike. It is universally known that the mysterious man behind the crackly, 2-step love songs is a rare breed indeed (even if he was cheated out of his Mercury Prize by Elbow). Fusing together the stylings of garage, rave, jungle, dubstep and, at times ambient, Mary Anne Hobbs introduced him to the world back on a ‘Breezeblock’ broadcast in ’06. When the time came to preview ‘Untrue’ on her Radio 1 show, with an exclusive Kode9 mix, she sighed, “Life and sound, will never be the same again.”

It’s clear that his music may not be made for the dancefloor, but the manipulated vocals, the lo-fi productions, the percussive textures - all key characteristics that paved the way for an after-the-club, comedown sound so distinctly familiar and hauntingly intimate. ‘Ghost Hardware’ is a clear example of a man at his prime. Like the rest of the LP, it depicts a deep sense of loss over a forgotten world, imploding out of Bevan’s reach. Setting the stage for a ‘post-’ musical climate, we can see the Burial touch in many of our favourite artists today.

As the title would suggest, ‘Ghost Hardware’ is inherently other-worldly. Rooted deep within the classic Burial sound, it was released as a promotional teaser to connect the glowing landscapes of ‘Burial’ and ‘Untrue’. Anthemic, without the uplifting connotations, Christina Aguilera’s voice croons out heartfelt yearnings, cut through by disconnected drums and white noise, (alongside a strained Scarlett Johannsson sample ICYMI).

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