At the start of the millennium I had somehow gotten it into my head that I was too old for dance music, that was a game for the under thirties and that I should return to listening to the more traditional guitar, bass and drum combo, the soul was fine but the Techno, D&B and House well that was for the youngsters. Not quite sure how this came about but I do remember feeling increasingly self conscious about the dance music, so much so that I sold a not inconsiderable number of records of this type in 2003, a story that I have related on these pages previously and find myself revisiting in the small hours now and then.
Today's track was the first track on the album that returned my focus to dance music when on a whim I purchased the album after reading the reviews and also if the truth be told on account of the cover which appealed to me for some reason.
Now, those of a more pedantic nature who are au fait with the works of William Emmanuel Bevan will point out that Distant Lights does not fit the criterion no matter what way you look at this, as if you side one track one means what it says then the track picked should be Wounder as this is the first track on the double vinyl release of Burial's debut album.
However, I would counter with I didn't buy the vinyl first, I bought the cd.
Then our know it all friend would probably retort with, then it wouldn't be side one track one but, track one of 13 on the cd and it wouldn't even be that, it would be track 2 as track one is called intro
To which there is only one reply, fuck off, it's my feature and I pick the tracks.
To say that Distant Lights stopped me in my tracks would not be an exaggeration as when I brought it back from Fopp in Cockburn Street and put it in the cd player I was transfixed by what I was hearing, those skittery beats, hard to decipher vocal samples and those atmospheric keyboards were like nothing I had ever heard before. There was something really menacing about these sounds a feeling of real dread but also a beauty about the sound. I had missed the South London Boroughs 12" that had been released the previous year and so had no idea about what I was going to hear on this album. But from the very first snippet of dialogue and sampled atmospherics I was hooked. I found that the best time to listen to the album was at night when it is dark and through headphones and I imagined walking round the dimly light streets of some city where all sorts of things were happening.
Frustratingly since his debut Burial has only released one further album, the following year's Untrue where the producer further honed his skills and produced an even better album. Since then there have been a string of eagerly awaited, more epic 12" singles which were all gathered together in last year's Tunes 2011 - 2019 double cd compilation , some wonderful collaborations with Four Tet and Thom Yorke and also a string of remixes includes two breath taking reworkings for Massive Attack but it is definitely time for another album.
I sometimes wonder if I had not taken a punt on this that lunchtime back in 2006 would I ever have gotten back into dance music or would I have become entrenched in "real" music and god forbid sold all the records that I stupidly considered myself too old for? Not sure I would have parted with any of the stuff with A Weatherall on the credits anywhere or The Orb but the rest who can tell.
Burial - Distant Lights