Burial is the artistic handle of one William Emmanuel Bevan. The dubstep/ambient/house musician has been an electronic music pioneer for nearly a decade. His eponymous debut was named 2006’s album of the year by The Wire magazine and his second album, “Untrue,” was ranked by Metacritic—the critique collating website—as 2007’s second highest rated release. And at that point, no one had any idea who the guy was.
A nomination for the illustrious Mercury Music Prise spurred further conjecture of his identity. Tabloids speculated that he might be Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) or Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim)—two guesses that speak volumes of Burial’s talent. Bevan finally revealed himself on his Myspace page in 2008, and in a blog entry wrote, "I'm a lowkey person and I just want to make some tunes”—a humbling and inspiring sentiment that further augments the artist’s allure.
After his unveiling, Bevan collaborated with visionary electronic artists Four Tet and Massive Attack, and began experimenting with multi-suite song forms that resulted in lengthy EPs. Burial’s 10+ minute tracks are filled with a stream-of-consciousness deluge of distinct ideas; they fuse together samples and cavernous pads and beats that are coated in fuzzy veneer. The divergence from full-length albums has resulted in three critically acclaimed EPs: “Kindred, “Truant/Rough Sleeper” and the most recent, “Rival Dealer.”
Bevan and Hyperdub Records—the label under which Burial releases his music—recently offered their blessing to London filmmaker Ben Dawkins to use “Rival Dealer”—the titular track of the same-named EP—as the soundtrack to his gritty short film, “Dealer.” The film was inspired by the track and was called “exciting and beautifully made” by Hyperdub. The 11-minute depiction really does do an excellent job rendering the visceral imagery evoked by the song, as it follows a London drug dealer around for a vicious—and seemingly routine—night slinging drugs. Video and audio act symbiotically, almost making it difficult to determine which media form inspired the other. The short also encourages the question: If Bevan were given the opportunity to score Dawkins’ film, would he do anything differently? Regardless, there’s no doubt that Burial could provide a provocative, edgy and original mood to any film that would benefit from such an aural milieu. Check out Dawkins’ short and see if you agree.