How lockdown revived a decade-old album


In the last year, living through 3 lockdowns in the UK, many people have felt more alone and isolated than at any other time in their life.  Unable to see friends and family through much of the pandemic. Finding ways to ease the emotional strain created by the current global climate has become essential for all of us. 

For me, like many others, music has been an emotional crutch I have leaned upon once again for support. With many artists and albums helping to create a sense of reprieve through the past 12 months, one album has stood out.

A critically acclaimed album

Released on Hyperdub in 2007, Untrue pushed beyond the confines of dubstep and created a musical experience unparalleled by any other artist at the time. The introspective sounds across the album – inspired by late nights in south London – showed a new and transformative avenue beyond the sounds more typical of the genre. Having comforted many feeling isolated, lost or alone over the last 14 years, is Untrue more relevant now in a global pandemic than ever before?

A victim to the 2007 smoking ban

The dub scene moved more and more towards the aggressive ‘tear out’ sound to keep ravers hooked into the music, instead of outside smoking. It was this sound that caught the ears of American producers in the EDM boom who took the midrange bass sounds and stripped away the dub hallmarks creating the wave of ‘brostep’ that many consider the death of the genre. With live music and raves a distant memory for many after the pandemic, the glory days of the UK dub’ scene feels like a much older relic of the past than the years would suggest.

Listening to Untrue feels like tuning in to the echoes from the distant scene

After the pandemic, the echoes of live music began to dissipate for us all. The late Mark Fisher perfectly encapsulated this feeling as “like walking into the abandoned spaces once carnivalized by raves and finding them returned to depopulated dereliction. Muted air horns flare like the ghosts of raves past.” Track number 7 ‘In McDonalds’ is essential listening to experience this eerie and sombre feeling Burial so skilfully crafts.

These haunting sounds can in part be credited to Burial’s late night walks and drives around the deserted streets of south London. This isolated setting is one many have connected with on a deeper level over the last year. Spending months away from your closest friends, and walking down the deserted high streets of towns and cities stuck in lockdown, the vast soundscapes fill the void where people once stood.

While the UK dubstep scene is a memory of the past, much of the spirit of the scene has continued in UK bass music, with some of dub’s best continuing to release under this wider label. This genre has been the sanctuary for many UK bass fans since the EDM boom, keeping the music they love alive and a part of rave culture. With the recent raves and gigs in Liverpool, live music as a whole is also seeing a similar glimmer of hope. Finally seeing images of crowds at events after over a year away has given a light at the end of the tunnel for all music lovers. Everyone at Tribal is as hopeful as ever – we are certain, we will dance again.

Words by Charlie Jordan