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Original author: 
Josh Sanburn

Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk has documented frenzied consumerism, the soul-deadening effects of office life and the strange theatrics of U.S. politics, always displaying a sense of humor and a grasp of the absurd that would not be out of place in a George Saunders short story. For our feature on the increasing popularity of cremation around the country, TIME sent Tunbjörk deep into the American heartland to chronicle the goings-on at three separate crematories.

For decades, burial has been by far the most common form of disposition in the United States. Most Americans never gave it a second thought: their grandparents were buried; their great-grandparents were buried—it just made sense that they’d get buried, too, in the family plot, beside their closest relatives.

(Click here to read TIME’s special report on cremation and find out why our changing attitude toward this final rite of passage says everything about the way we live now.)

But today we’re a far different society than we were just a few decades ago. Within the next few years it’s projected that, for the first time, more Americans will get cremated than buried.

Much of the recent rise of cremation’s popularity can be credited to the Great Recession. Cremations can cost as little as a quarter as much as traditional burials. But it’s not just the price tag that makes cremation a popular alternative.

For one, we’re a much more mobile society today. We don’t buy family plots the way we used to because more of us get an education, start a family, get a job and retire far from our birthplaces. When it comes time to find a final resting place, transporting an urn is much easier than dealing with a casket.

Historically, the U.S. has been a majority Christian nation, and Christianity favors burial for a number of reasons. But Americans are becoming increasingly secular and many of us now identify as atheist, agnostic or, even if we consider ourselves religious, aren’t affiliated with a particular faith. That separation from a religion with ties to traditional burial has led to more Americans exploring other options of disposition.

Cremation has also appealed to those looking for a more eco-friendly solution than burial, which involves placing a body filled with embalming fluids on a plot of land that will need to be maintained in perpetuity. And while flame-based cremation is a more environmentally sensitive solution than traditional burial, a new breed of eco-friendly cremations is just starting to become popular. “Green cremations,” which use a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide, are available in a handful of states and are outpacing flame-based cremations in the areas where they’re offered.

The practice of cremation will in all likelihood only grow as we become more mobile, secular and eco-conscious as a society. In fact, in the not too distant future, burial might well be seen as a peculiar option in light of the eminently reasonable, less expensive and environmentally sound method now so widely available—and increasingly embraced.

Click here to read TIME’s special report on cremation and find out why our changing attitude toward this final rite of passage says everything about the way we live now.

Lars Tunbjörk is a photographer based in Stockholm. He previously photographed the 2012 Iowa Caucuses for TIME

Josh Sanburn is a writer/reporter for TIME in New York. Follow him on Twitter @joshsanburn.

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Every ten years hundreds of people wearing white - a customary color for funerals and visiting temples – go to the cemetery, open the graves and clean the unclaimed bodies to offer them a proper...

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Photo by: Gus Mantel
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This Shigeto remix of Sufjan Stevens just got leaked out about a week ago, a beautiful take on how to remix a different genre, Shigeto keeps the feel of the original and gives us this thread that unravels this tune into pile of silk cloth to lay on and rest.

Probably the most inviting to new listeners of the Four Tet / Burial collabs comes Nova. This could be an Enya / Ricardo Villalobos collab which really sounds appealing right now and i’m only saying that because I wish this hit a broader audience so people could understand what the world is missing out on here.

Its time for early 2000′s Tech House to come back, the melody is important again! pull out your old Traum, Kompakt, and Border Community records because they’ll blow these young kids minds, Blondes definitely know what there doing.

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A new Mux Mool track has already surfaced for his upcoming album Planet High School thats out in February 2012, the track Palace Chalice reminds me of the slower work from his debut LP Skulltaste, when I listen to it I imagine walking thru a casino all warped Fear In Loathing style. DOWNLOAD IT HERE FOR FREE

Grabbed from the BBC radio, here’s Burial remixing Massive Attack, very elegant, haunting and brittle.

Peaking Lights have been a favorite lately, after seeing them make their own equipment i’m excited to see how they do it live Friday, come by and say hello i’ll be doing a Heathered Pearls DJ set.

Onra going all out here, this is pretty much the equivalent to Super Fly car chase soundtrack but in Japanese.

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XLR8R posted a free mix by Shigeto today, its a great mix of loose beat material and plenty of organic textures, tracklist below. For the EU ISO50 readers, we finally have tour dates from someone who I treat as family on this blog coming to visit you, definitely worth seeing, we also attached a glimpse of him playing live(18 mins of it).

DOWNLOAD THE MIX HERE FOR FREE

TRACKLIST
01 A Setting Sun “33 (JDSY Remix)” (Moodgadget)
02 Deru “Between You and Me” (Hymen)
03 Shigeto and Devonwho “Cirlces” (All City)
04 Simple “Barely Together”
05 Zack Christ “Fox Prawn” (Tall Prawn)
06 Mount Kimbie “Would Know” (Hotflush)
07 Pajaro Sunrise “Old Goodbyes (Charles Trees Remix)” (Lovemonk)
08 Shlohmo “Forgot Where I Was” (Friends of Friends)
09 Burial “Broken Home” (Hyperdub)
10 King Midas Sound “Lost (Flying Lotus Remix)” (Hyperdub)
11 Devonwho “Holup (Hi Res’ Refix)” (Klipmode)
12 Take “Neon Beams (Dibiase Remix)” (Alpha Pup)
13 Dabrye “With a Professional” (Ghostly International)
14 3LLL “Melt”
15 Shigeto “Children at Midnight (Saturn Never Sleeps Remix)”

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As we reported yesterday, Thom Yorke, Four Tet and dubstep musician Burial have all teamed together for a 12" which will be released on Four Tet's label - Text. The A-Side is called "Ego", and the AA-side is "Mirror". Both tracks premiered on UK radio station Rinse FM, rips of which can now be listened to below.

Ego

Mirror

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