Sunday 27 February 2011

Late to the Party: Burial and Deadmau5

As much as we like to keep up with The Latest Developments In The Music Scene here at Quiff Pro Fro, there are sometimes artists that slip us by. Today I'd like to talk about two pioneers of electronic music who, though you've probably heard of, I have completely glossed over until recently.

First up: Burial, whose track 'Archangel' has been sitting in my iTunes library since August 2009. Yeah, seriously. I'm not entirely sure why I overlooked such a dark, moody gem for such a long time, but 'Archangel' is spooky, late-night music; the music equivalent of walking through the deserted streets of London at 5am with a head full of memories.

Dubstep is a wide and diverse genre of dance music, but Burial definitely stretches the definition of it to its limit. It's a million miles from the likes of Chase & Status and Nero, whose distorted guitars owe more to Nu-Metal than Dubstep's grime roots. Burial, on the other hand, scraps the cliched 'wobble' and big drops for a more intimate sound.

In fact, the whole album Untrue is like one walk through a post-apocalyptic, head-bobbing cityscape, with some slower tracks later in the album worthy of inclusion on Selected Ambient Works vol.2. It's spooky without being gothic, and urban without having to be aggressive. And it's absolutely fantastic.

Next up is the slightly less worthy, but certainly a lot more fun, Deadmau5. His distinctive "giant mouse head" is fairly well-known, and I suppose DJing at the MTV VMAs technically makes one of those artists who's too mainstream to be worthy of blogger coverage. (But you know what? I DON'T CARE.)

There's something both bland and distinctive about Deadmau5' work. The production, though fantastic, is also very minimalist - putting the rhythms and interesting chord sequences at the heart of the music. It's a refreshing approach.

Although 'Ghosts n Stuff' and 'I Remember' are perfect instrumental pop songs, for some reason Deadmau5 feels the need to allow Rob Swire (of Pendulum) and Cascada to karaoke over the top of them. Additionally, with five albums (and four compilation CDs) produced over the last six years, he could easily be accused of quantity over quality.

The bits that are good though are really really good. Epic ten-minute rave 'Strobe' builds to a fantastic climax, with interlocking rhythms and a massive sense of scale - worth every second of its running time. It's the kind of music you can imagine filling a stadium.

The polar opposite to Burial, in fact. It's wonderful that "dance music" can contain so much variety within a single genre, and a testament to its diversity and success.


  1. it is a mortal sin to mention burial and deadmaus in the same breath

  2. Sure, Burial is far more intellectual and avant-garde and stuff... but Deadmau5 is just so much fun!


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