14 June 2012
Untold - Caslon / Breathe (Hemock, 25th June)
Hemlock continues to impress with an unsurprisingly solid 12" from head honcho Untold, which channels a very satisfying amount of Berghain darkness, shot through with subtle melodies and counter-rhythms. Whilst Untold's biggest strength is his fluid percussion and complex approach to rhythm, I've always been particularly keen on his lower end landscapes; the strange way that he manages to combine both misanthropic gloominess and a surprising amount of delicacy in his subs and basslines. Check out his work on Round Black Ghosts for proof. Caslon takes an entirely different root - with an arpeggiated acid synth bludgeoning the listener, it's way more aggressive than previous works. Complementing this more hard-nosed aesthetic is some beautifully over-driven percussion, with the white noise on all the hats and cymbals turned up to a wickedly distorted level that recalls Karl O Connor's work with Peter Sutton. On the flip, Breathe adopts a more late-night
house feel, mixing classic garage-house with sparkling keys that recall Claro Intelecto's early analogue fanboyisms. The problem is that Untold never really gets beyong fanboyisms, despite the mentally innovative nature of Stereo Freeze (RandS ), and with the current wave of Berghain-fixated UK producers, this doesn't stand out as much as Can't Stop This Feeling or Anaconda. It's not that either of the tracks on this 12" are bad (Caslon's definitely getting rinsed), but that considering the cross-genre masterpieces Guy Andrew's been dropping on Hemlock, this feels limited in its scope, and slightly masturbatory.
In 2012, dubstep is at best an ill-defined concept, and at worst, an excuse for terrible rave music; it's very satisfying to see once "dubstep" labels like Hemlock, Hessle and Hot Flush shaking off the last vestages of that shroud and turning out great dance music, period. Untold's definitely a big part of that change, but as good as these tunes are, they lack that ineffable je ne sais quo, or "what the fuck is this?" factor to make them truly great.