“Archangel” is unquestionably the peak of Burial’s sophomore dubstep album Untrue. The track is a haphazard dirge, with a shuddering, jolting baseline under clipped vocals and melancholic instrumentation. It’s glass breaking gently underwater; it’s simultaneously sad but optimistic, heartfelt but detached.
It’s a personal vision which makes it a particular challenge to cover, but Chet Faker has done just that, with a bold reinterpretation on guitars, keyboard and drums.
It’s an impressive take on the song. In Burial’s version, the vocals are important to the song but are just one element of the composition – the power largely stems from the instrumentation. Chet Faker frontloads the vocals and makes the song his own with a committed performance, suffused with genuine emotion. He maintains the funereal atmosphere of the song, but it’s a memorial ode as opposed to the stifled sobs of the original.
Burial’s version creates and maintains its tone throughout; it doesn’t build or fade, but lingers. The cover accumulates texture gradually, beginning with delicate fragility that hardens and grows to a grandiose finale. Chet Faker’s version feels like a gentle whimper building to a cathartic roar of release; it maintains the core of Burial’s track while creating something new.