Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Untold at FWD», 12th July 2009

There’s something to be said for the continued existence and success of a space like FWD>> for the nurturing and airing of new and innovative sounds; detachment from the crowd-pleasing pressures of performing at a Friday or Saturday night rave encourages sets that do not merely skirt round the edges of subtlety and musicality but fully embrace the possibilities that come with a devoted and attentive audience. It’s often said that dulling one sensory input heightens that of all the others, yet I’ve always found the environment inside Plastic People unusual in that its pitch darkness seems not only to attenuate vision but also touch, taste, smell; yet the alienation engendered by almost total sensory deprivation is redeemed by the total immersion in sound such an environment offers. Away from these anchors to reality the experience is pleasurably dissociative, the constant motion of bodies in monochrome only occasionally disturbed by the sudden spark of a lighter held to the ceiling in triumph, everything suddenly lit for a fraction of a second in glorious technicolour before plunging back into darkness.

From the literal to the metaphorical; such a description would be as appropriate to encapsulate Untold’s set this evening, which plunges from the humid heights of Joy Orbison’s ‘Hyph Mngo’ straight into dizzying cyclical layers of percussion, brightened only by an occasional flash of woozy melody. The past twelve months have seen his profile skyrocket off the back of his stellar productions, which themselves have swiftly evolved from intriguing curios into some of the most essential in modern electronic music. Both his recent 12” releases on Hessle Audio (‘I Can’t Stop This Feeling’/‘Anaconda’) and Hotflush (‘Just For You’, backed with a tough-as-nails Roska refix) have seen him up the ante considerably, injecting his music with a renewed vigour that owes as much to the labyrinthine twists of Eskibeat as to previous touchstones, dark halfstep and stoned chords straight out of the Berlin school of techno. The propulsive, restless energy of tonight’s set conjures up the long-lost ghosts of hardcore and early jungle, a seam richly mined for nostalgia over the past few years but one which rarely sounds this contemporary, this now.

There are comparisons to be drawn with the emergent ‘wonky’ movement in effect, if not in execution; the aptly titled ‘Stop What You’re Doing’, recently premiered on Dusk & Blackdown’s Rinse show, shares a kindred what-the-fuck factor with some of Zomby’s most off-kilter moments, yet the stylistic contrast could not be starker. Both elicit a heightened sense of disorientation, but whilst in Zomby’s music this is achieved through loosely tied and staggering, unpredictable rhythms, in Untold’s productions it’s through tightly locked polyrhythmic interplay – this is the stuff of pinpoint accuracy. Once grafted to swooping basslines and shards of melodic shrapnel, at times the effect is closer to a kind of stripped down and muscular instrumental grime than to any notion of conventional dubstep.

Crucially though, when all is said and done, it remains both fiendishly addictive and frighteningly danceable – and when the sultry vocal from Geiom & Marita’s ‘Reminissin’ floats buoyant at the top of the mix for a minute or so before being sucked into a maelstrom of woodblock and snare, that’s all that really seems to matter.

Untold's MySpace:

All the sets from FWD on 12th July (including a pretty fantastic 45 minutes from Geeneus) are currently available to download from Rinse FM (

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