Ladies and gentlemen we are floating on the N3 bus
I’ve never really associated a particular sound with London night buses. I’ve taken them thousands of times back from whatever club down to Trafalgar Square, then deep into South London, often hood up, often walkman on, settling in for the 2 hour trek home. But there is a sound, it’s the tenor of the music you pick for that journey. It’s melancholy for sure, the echo after the rave. It’s comforting, full of synths in time with the wheels of the bus, staring out into lonely night time London.
It’s the London I love, the London of Mass, of the End, of bashy warehouse parties, of groundbreaking music: my history of pilgrimages to hear that new bass thud. But I’ve never found a sound for the afterglow, the hours after the club, the last hours before dawn.
Burial’s second album is just that. It’s a simply amazing tribute to characterless backstreets, the sheer size of London and the distance of dark you have to return through. The sound of lonely voices curling out of alleyways, the quiet melancholy joining a night out and a warm bed. Nothing left, just an afterglow. If Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen was the greatest post break up album, this is the greatest post club record. It makes me feel good about the hours I’ve spent sat on night buses, makes it suddenly feel inseparable from the reasons I love London.
His first album hinted at this but in Untrue he’s taken the melancholy tone of tracks like Distant Lights and Forgive and created an entire album full of the sounds of a cold walk, a rattling bus, agro at the bus stop, rainy streets, a club door swinging shut behind you and filled it with the heartbeat of one person, making their way home. It’s incredible, the best record I’ve heard all year.
King of dubstep commentary Blackdown has a great interview with burial here, I also like K-dub’s comparison of Burial to Joy Division. I’ve just discovered his blog and will be reading it a lot more from now on.