My Top 20 Songs of 2012 #16: Burial – ‘Loner’


William Bevan aka Burial is the man who, better than any other, seems to provide a soundtrack to the restless paranoia of a city at night. On the predictably brilliant Kindred EP, his fragile, sparse, ambient two-step seemed more skittish than ever, sounding like it had been beamed straight from the brain of a meth-head (yes, I have been watching a lot of Breaking Bad recently). However, it was the first of the b-sides that was the stand out track, not least because it was in (gasp) 4/4 time.

Starting out with a rumble of crackly, ambient noise, the beat kicks in at around the 45 second mark, then shortly afterwards the bass line drops, which gives the song its fidgety momentum. The beat drops out and drops back in again, each time seeming more relentless than the previous. After 6 minutes it all drops away and a synth and soulful vocal enter from stage left, seemingly to calm your nerves. However, before you have time to get comfortable, this salve on the paranoia disintegrates into another disquieting outburst of ambient noise.

It’s an unsettling, yet glorious song that should come with a warning sticker: “Don’t listen to whilst stoned, or if walking down any dark alleys”.

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