Warmth in the Long Night | “Shadow Paradise” by Burial


Mike Merucci, Writer/Volunteer

Through my ears, the music of British electronic artist Burial has always sounded as if it lives in a world of perpetual January and February nights. The mystique of a dark, lonesome city has formed through all the fracture, distortion and fuzz, while each release has its own alleys and side streets that reveal a twist in the template. The alleys and side streets of the newly released Antidawn EP bring beautiful sproutings of warmth to this longstanding winter, and no track showcases that better than “Shadow Paradise.”

“Shadow Paradise” is an extraordinarily dynamic ten-minute sequence — one that morphs slowly and invites many, many voices to sing against the cold night. It thrives on gentle sample-based rises and falls, rapid drums, extended silences, angelic backings and too much more to reasonably list. At the center of it all is one concept: love. A tricky thing. A thing not to be taken lightly, as most know. When the creature that is love awakens, it often surges on a path as winding and complicated as the street grid of a city. Like Burial’s music, there are many alleys and side streets, many variations. That is why the two have always been so deeply intertwined. 

Sometimes love results in a perpetual winter: day after day of those cold January and February nights where the wind is harsh and the lights of the world seem a little dimmer. But in “Shadow Paradise” the result is a strong, quiet embrace — a great warmth resulting from a distorted choir calling out to love. These calls paired with the bright instrumentation seeping through cracks in the track’s icy background result in a soundscape of hope — an eerie, slightly desolate hope, but hope nonetheless. In the dilapidated, gray city that has been constructed through Burial’s discography over the years, a few more lights have recently been switched on. How dim or bright they shine may depend on the listener.