This is the greatest album of the previous decade.
This is the greatest album of the previous decade. Hyperdub

This is what happened exactly 10 years ago: It is around noon, it is sunny outside (like it is today), and an email from Steven Shaviro (one of the most influential American philosophers of our times) appears on my computer screen. I open it and find a link to a BBC radio program, Breezeblock, that's the epicenter of a new movement of music called dubstep. The show's host is Mary Anne Hobbs, and her featured artist is an unknown 26-year-old producer named Burial. His self-titled album has just been released by Hyperdub, a label founded and managed by Kode9. Hobbs introduces the 22-minute mix of Burial's beats in her inimitable way. The mixer of the set is the founder of Hyperdub...

When the mix ends, I find that my mind is just blank. I do not know what to think. I just stare at the screen. I then thoughtlessly replay the mix... and this time I realize what is happening to me. I have never heard music like this before—so dark, so urban, so vast, so intimate, so human, so posthuman, so dusky.

The mix opens with lots of scratchy sounds, hisses, electrical discharges, echoes of damned Rasta men, and then, when the confusion clears, it breaks into a beat that sounds like a train racing across a ghostly city. The train (the beat) is real; the world it traverses is not. After two minutes of this rattling, tapping, clanking momentum, the mix rises up to the mesosphere (the region where meteorites vaporize) with an ambient tune that loops the fifth track on Brian Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks with the sound of a mourning angel...

I thought of that wonderful sentence in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake: “It darkles (tinct, tint) all this our funnanimal world.” Funnanimal was just like this young man's dub. It echoes like it echoes, and ghosts like it ghosts (phenomenal, fundamental, animal, fun). I was spiritually transformed by these crepuscular beats, which is why a few weeks latter I saw myself as something of Paul to this Burial, whom I contacted on Myspace.

We began an exchange that lasted a year. He was patient with me. He answered my questions. He often surprised and mystified me. He once wrote: "I want to make a beat that feels like, you know, when an elevator door opens and your best mate is in it, and he is dead and there is blood everywhere." I had never been in this situation. I really wanted to hear what it sounded and felt like.

Then one day he closed his account and I never heard from him again. All I had was his music. His funnanimal music.