Brambles | Supplied

Love Letter to a Record: Brambles on Burial’s ‘Untrue’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Brambles’ Mira Dawson shares their love for Burial’s landmark 2007 album, Untrue.

Brambles is the electronic music project of Melbourne-based British musician Mira Dawson. Since releasing their debut album, Charcoal, in 2012, Brambles has shown a propensity to dive head first into a range of electronic music styles, from ambient introspection to experimental pop. On the unsettling single ‘Demon’ from Brambles’ new album Mirror, they incorporate video game samples and embrace hyperpop influences.

Brambles’ Love Letter to Burial’s Untrue

Brambles: When I first discovered Burial I was immediately obsessed with his use of texture, attention to detail and otherworldly atmosphere. His albums are truly magical to me. They have had a huge influence on my music and I still revisit them often. Untrue really transports me to another world of glimmering street lights, desolate playgrounds and empty fog-filled suburban landscapes. It feels like being in a film or a strange dream.

I listened to this album intensely around ten years ago when I was temporarily living in a tent in an Austrian forest. I would walk to the local village library to charge my phone and refill water bottles while listening and deconstructing this masterpiece. To me, it really is a perfect album for travelling and exploring new places.

A standout track for me is the eerie ‘In McDonalds’, which encapsulates that strange discombobulated feeling at 5am on a Friday night where you’re waiting for your fries with strangers who seem to be zombie-like NPCs out of Grand Theft Auto. For this track, Burial sampled an acapella by Aaliyah from a now-ancient YouTube video. The words “‘Cause once upon a time, it was you I adored” are pitched and effected to sound like you are trapped in an echoey chamber of pure sorrow.

Aaliyah – ‘I Refuse (Acapella)’

Untrue feels very much alive as an album. Ambient tracks such as ‘Endorphin’ or ‘UK’ help to bring the record together as a matrix of liminal spaces that feel distant yet highly emotive at the same time. His process involved using an archaic audio editor called Sound Forge, which doesn’t even have separate tracks to mix layers together. Through experience, he knew how he wanted particular wave forms to look and most edits to the tracks were permanent and could not be undone.

I think this unusual process is how he was able to create the album in under two weeks, as the limitations of the software became beneficial in moving forward and committing to ideas.

Part of the enjoyment of listening to Burial is that you notice something different with every listen. There are so many unexpected samples taken completely out of context and flipped to make mournful wailing or crunchy percussion. He also samples pop artists such a Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé and Usher to make their vocals sound like spectral entities or ghosts in the machine.

If you listen hard enough you can also hear samples from old PlayStation games, like the sound of bullet casings hitting concrete taken from Metal Gear Solid in the track ‘Near Dark’.

Burial hasn’t released an album since 2007 and perhaps he will only continue to release smaller records. But even still, his work will continue to have a profound effect on me and so many other electronic music fans. Like coming back to an old mysterious friend, it’s always such a trip to envelop myself within the undulating and decaying walls of the wonder that is Untrue.

Brambles – ‘Demon’

Further Reading

R.em.edy on the Artists That Inspired Her ‘Last Summer’ EP

Holliday Howe: The Artists That Inspired the ‘My Friends Live In My Pocket’ Mixtape

The Best Electronic Releases of the 2020s So Far, According to 44 Ardent

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