While the man has been responsible more than a few dancefloor heaters, Untold (a.k.a. Jack Dunning) has never been known for crafting music that's particularly light or happy. The Hemlock boss specializes in dark textures, which are often supplemented by hard-hitting percussion and thick bass tones. That said, his sound, which initially proved rather uniform, has substantially evolved in recent years, and continues to do so. Change in a Dynamic Environment Part I, the first chapter of an announced trilogy, marks the London producer's return to Hemlock, Dunning's first release on his own label since 2009's Gonna Work Out Fine EP. In truth, the songs here sound almost nothing like that record's title track or "No One Likes a Smart-Arse," yet Untold continues to sail in ominously compelling waters.
The record begins with "Motion the Dance," a track that's somehow both one of the deepest cuts he's ever released and also one of the most nightmarish. It begins innocently enough with a heavy, plodding beat and a thick, underwater bassline. Nearly two minutes in, light synths enter the fray, which only makes the abrupt introduction of the song's central movement at the 3:20 mark even more shocking. Losing the airy melodies altogether, Untold brings in a menacing maelstrom of dark, churning synth tones. Paired with the song's thunderously mechanical rhythm, the effect is eerily cinematic, although the feeling conveyed skews a lot closer to the psychological mindfuck of a Lars von Trier film than it does a bubbly romantic comedy.
"Luminous" explores a similar sound palette, although the track's drum pattern does forego the rigid percussive skeleton of "Motion the Dance" in favor of something with a slight shuffle. In terms of mood, however, the song goes even deeper, mulling about with atmospheric haze and dusty chords before Untold once again reaches for those same buzzing synth tones, which seemingly grind away at your skull as they twist and swirl. The songs on Change in a Dynamic Environment Part I won't be for everyone, particularly those looking to drop something "fun," but there's no question that the construction here is impeccable. Comparisons can be drawn to the work of artists such as Blawan and Gerry Read, and both tracks have a similar rawness, but they also display a level of polish, refinement, and patience that's lacking in the (admittedly excellent) work of Untold's younger contemporaries. The world of so-called "bass music" continues to morph and creep into new corners of the dance-music landscape, and with the release of Change in a Dynamic Environment Part I, the nebulous scene just might have its first K-hole anthems.