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Review: Untold - Black Light Spiral

Review: Untold – Black Light Spiral
Rhemayo Brooks

Jack Dunning has been an ever-present figure in the rise of the distinct UK sound that has evaded genre and sat in a class of its own for the past half-decade.

Bass, post-dubstep, future garage, tip-topple-asuraus sound; whatever people have tried to call it Untold has has had a guiding hand, leading this wave, caressing it in subtle and brave directions, whether it be through his intricately chaotic production as in “Anaconda” on Hessle; or the depth and variance of the excellent releases coming out of his own imprint, Hemlock.

However, approximately five years since his arrival, Black Light Spiral consolidates his position by presenting a distorted collage of a music ill-tempered and spiky enough to command a space of its own. No, its not necessarily all for the club, but its appreciation will not be found on a Sunday night in – this is pain music.

After the apocalyptic soundscape of “Wheels”, the LP finds its force in” Drop It On The One”. Looped samples stutter with the beat, whilst an industrial, surging bass gradually overcomes, taking the track to a peerless zenith. “Sing a Love Song” almost approaches a club track as it builds, again relying on a dub-influenced vocal to carry it through trembling terrain. Brief relief is provided by melodic piano stabs, but we are quickly returned to the relentless bass. In contrast, the heartbeat of “Doubles” feels almost comforting, a more familiar manifestation. Its gentle respiratory accents give it a calming, organic tension.

“Wet Wool” provides something different with its surging buzz, a warmth that, up until this point, the album has shirked. However, that relief is light as “Strange Dreams” drops the listener back on their head with stomping, morphing distortions. There is a recognisable 4×4 thud underlying the track, giving order to a very gnarling sound.

“Hobthrush” and “Ion”, certainly feel like an extended comedown after the album’s best. However, this is no dilution of the album’s sound, and even as the latter’s jutting synth peters to its end, you are very aware it is merely the tail of the very same beast.

This is certainly not the Untold that we had gotten used to. It’s unfamiliar, it’s uneasy. It has abandoned the groove which Dunning mastered over the past half decade, for a much darker exploration. It stomps, it slithers, it creeps, it rollocks. However, at times you feel that Dunning holds back not allowing it the monstrous manifestation it threatens. Instead opting to cool the mood with aural experimentations – synths, bass and buzz. This is an ominous compilation, one that provides uneasy excitement and leaves you feeling a bit twisted, a bit dirty, a bit ragged.

Black Light Spiral is out now on Hemlock Recordings.