Burial’s debut full-length drew from established electronic templates—jungle, 2-step, grime, ambient, and other offshoots from the heyday of rave. But the project’s particular fusion resulted in something new and even groundbreaking as it brought the dark sound of UK dubstep into wider view. At the time of the album's release in 2006, the producer behind the alias—London's William Bevan—was still unknown, and the music unfolded with a corresponding mystery. Burial is a haunting soundtrack to an urban night, suggesting deserted streets rife with possibility and danger; it takes the kinetic groove of dance music and transforms it into pure ghostly atmosphere.
The stuttering stop/start beat of the style known as 2-step is the foundational pulse on Burial, but other rhythms snake through the set. “Gutted” is like an after-image of drum ’n’ bass, with jittery percussion rendered on what might be a sample of a pistol being cocked, while “Prayer” has the forward lean of futuristic millennial R&B. Beneath the snares and the deep bass, the music is alive with hisses, crackles, and dubby echo. Tracks such as “Night Bus,” which combines eerie synths with the sound of drizzling rain, and “Forgive,” built around an aching loop of processed voice, served as templates for subgenres of ambient music in the years to come. Burial has lived in the shadow of its 2007 follow-up, Untrue, the project's true breakthrough, but the seeds of everything to come can be found here.