- If you had to sum up Burial's music in a song lyric, it's hard to think of any more fitting than "Inner city life / Inner city pressure." Sung by the late Diane Charlemagne, on Goldie's "Inner City Life," the line conjures up images of grey high-rises, beeping horns and cash-strapped citizens with bags under their eyes. In other words, a snapshot of London, the city that's long been Burial's muse. But where Burial's portrayal of urban life is often melancholic, Goldie's jungle classic is warm and optimistic.
It was intriguing, then, to learn that Burial had remixed "Inner City Life," and would release his version through Metalheadz for this year's Record Store Day. Like much of Burial's recent work, it has polarised opinion, which, given the original's classic status, is hardly surprising. One of UK dance music's greatest-ever artists has taken on one of its greatest-ever tracks. Goldie's "2017 Rebuild" of the 1995 original precedes Burial's remix on this single-sided 12-inch. There are few discernible differences between Goldie's versions, except that the newest opens with Charlemagne's iconic cry of "Tiiiiimeless" and feels sharper and fresher in tone, like it's been given a lick of paint.
Burial's remix is a world apart. From the opening collage of sounds—police sirens, thunder, a gun reloading—he thrusts the listener into his dark and unforgiving inner-city life. When the drums barrel in, they're frantic and fast, laced with anxious synths and the odd yearning vocal. The mood is oppressive—even Charlemagne's soaring vocals struggle to be heard beneath the murk. And then, suddenly, with less than two minutes left, the drums fall away and serene beams of light flood in. A common feature among Burial's recent tracks, these sharp left turns often preface a dramatic mood swing. Here, he closes with a rush of euphoria by adding a sped-up sample of the ravishing melody from the 1997 trance track "Now And Zen" by Quietman. Burial, for all his gloom, has always held out hope for life in his city, which brings to mind another of Charlemagne's timeless lyrics: "But I won't let go, I won't let go."
A Inner City Life (2017 Rebuild)
AA Inner City Life (Burial Remix)