Burial is the stage name of William Bevan, an electronic recording artist from London. His music contains elements of dubstep, 2-step garage, ambient and house music. His eponymous debut album was released in 2006 to critical acclaim. The Wire magazine named it their album of the year, along with achieving fifth place in the Mixmag 2006 Album of the Year list, and eighteenth in the best of the year list of The Observer Music Monthly supplement. Burial's second album, Untrue, was also released to critical acclaim and was the second-highest rated album of 2007, according to the review-collating website, Metacritic.
Although both albums have been met with much widespread acclaim, Burial remained anonymous until August 2008, and said in an early interview that "only five people know I make tunes". In February 2008, The Independent reported that Burial was an alumnus of south London's Elliott School named William Bevan (another alumnus, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard, said in 2006 that Bevan was in the year above him). The school's alumni also include Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet), with whom Bevan has collaborated.
On 22 July 2008, The Guardian reported that Burial was a nominee for the 2008 Mercury Music Prize. NME reported on 31 July 2008 that Burial was the favourite for the award. After much Mercury Prize-related coverage in tabloid newspapers in the UK, including speculation that Burial was either Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) or Norman Cook, Burial confirmed The Independent's information and posted a picture of himself on his MySpace page on 5 August 2008. A blog entry stated, "I'm a lowkey person and I just want to make some tunes, nothing else", as well as announcing a forthcoming four-track 12?, and thanking his fans for their support up to this point. On 9 September 2008, Elbow won the award in question.
Bevan claims to compose nearly all his music in SoundForge, a digital audio editor, and to eschew the use of trackers and sequencers. Journalist Derek Walmsley stated in The Wire:
"Inspired by the darkside drum'n'bass of the Metalheadz label, Burial decided at the outset to avoid at all costs the rigid, mechanistic path that eventually brought drum 'n' bass to a standstill. To this end, his percussion patterns are intuitively arranged on the screen rather than rigidly quantized, creating minute hesitations and slippages in the rhythm. His snares and hi-hats are covered in fuzz and phaser, like cobwebs on forgotten instruments, and the mix is rough and ready rather than endlessly polished. Perhaps most importantly, his basslines sound like nothing else on Earth. Distorted and heavy, yet also warm and earthy, they resemble the balmy gust of air that precedes an underground train."