Untold, Little Things Like That

[Clone Basement Series]

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Full disclosure: I have been somewhat impervious to Untold’s charms since his 2009 heyday, in which his Hessle Audio classic I Can’t Stop This Feeling/Anaconda, the gargantuan “Gonna Work Out Fine” doublepack on his own Hemlock label, and “Just For Me” on Hotflush basically flooded the market with insanity. Where those releases featured some of the most elastic, freewheeling party music I’ve encountered since starting to follow the stuff, so much of his material since hasn’t been nearly as innovative. Instead, he’s been getting tougher — certainly not Skrillex tough, but definitely something like 40-breakdowns-per-track-plus-no-more-than-trace-amounts-of-melody tough. (See “Stereo Freeze,” his club-footed (I mean that in a bad way) 2010 single for R&S.) Which is fine and everything: parties need party tunes and not every party needs to be pushing parties forward. I guess I just heard in the man like Jack Dunning the ability to be bold, to freak people out in freaky new ways, to make us maybe think about moshing a little bit but also catching us in way too stoned a state to ever do so. Did he not sense in us that same willingness to get weird?

Untold on Clone, though, was a tasty prospect, maybe even a chance for a fresh start: on a label untethered to post-whatever, Dunning might have the space to branch out again, to wild out on a label with a very different definition of tough. Instead, I hear Untold doubling down on this tenth installment of the Clone Basement Series. “Little Things Like That” certainly sounds of a piece with the sort of techno Mike Dehnert and Levon Vincent (remixing Mike Dehnert) have contributed to the sublabel — menacing dub chords, thumping low end, general vibe of illegality — but stripped of its soul. While driving, “Little Things Like That” isn’t really driving anywhere, relying instead on cheap zaps to remind us we’re reaching a new stretch of highway. The first 15 seconds or so of “Bachelor’s Delight” interestingly suggest the techno of a few waves back, but we quickly get sucked into the kind of whirlpooling synth lines and lacerating percussion that all too often signify Untold these days. He certainly deserves credit for his sound design here — as ugly as his sounds get on “Bachelor’s Delight,” he always finds room for them in the mix — but otherwise, I find very little to revel in. If what I’ve been sensing for the last few years is a shrinking of Untold’s range, then “Little Things Like That” is unfortunately another contraction. I look forward to him getting his groove back.

Bill Cartwright  on October 26, 2011 at 4:19 AM

Haven’t heard this, but the intro to this review is baffling at best and straight up terrible at worst (to even mention Skrillex…) Firstly, Untold hasn’t released too many original tracks since 2010. Secondly, his collab with LV and “Come Follow Me” were relatively restrained and weird, and sounded nothing like the stuff you’re describing.

Thirdly, there’s no one else who sounds like him, so grudgingly describing his output as “parties need party tunes and not every party needs to be pushing parties forward” is off-puttingly condescending.

Fourthly, Stereo Freeze did freak a lot of people out beyond its visceral impact. You should’ve stuck to speaking in the first person.

Yes, a lot of Untold’s music is over the top and I totally get not being a fan (music is subjective bla bla bla), but to criticize it for being too tough and not weird enough as if it were some objective fact irks me, especially when 95% of the post-dubstep world is filled with boring, watered down house and techno with shitty vocal samples that regularly gets creamed on.

Again, I haven’t heard this yet and I may entirely agree with you on the actual review. The intro though – to put it succintly – sucks. Worse, it reminds me of the Pitchfork review of “Fever”. You guys are better than that.

I apologize for being a dick, but I feel strongly (clearly) about this shit.

rubin  on October 26, 2011 at 12:18 PM

I rate this track because it’s a stripped down, tough as fuck techno tune that I know will move a dancefloor. Whether it’s made by untold or not I don’t really care. To be honest I always found his totally off the wall shit a bit too much anyway.

I also think that Stereo Freeze was one of the tracks of last year, it’s fucking rude and sounds so tough coming through a system.

My 2 cents.

PS – I will be buying this on vinyl.

Jordan Rothlein  on October 26, 2011 at 1:06 PM

No need to apologize, Bill… this is an open forum, and I always appreciate people engaging with my reviews. I’m a little confounded, though, that you’re willing to pick apart my review without having heard the tracks I’m writing about. I think the second paragraph, which pretty much sticks to the tunes in question, provides some context for that first paragraph you so take issue with. For me, these tracks demonstrate how a producer can sound like no one else *while simultaneously* not being all that cutting-edge or forward-looking or (if you’re me) enjoyable.

I think something you have to keep in mind when you’re reading this site is that nothing we’re saying is objective. Like, something that reads like a statement of fact (e.g. my description of “Stereo Freeze” as club-footed) is inherently subjective in the context of a music review. If I had to include a caveat with every point I make to the effect of, “Now this is just my opinion, but…” these reviews would be longer than they already are, and needlessly so.

Point taken on Untold collabs. Given more space, it would have been worth including that his collaborative work during the period in question has struck a really nice balance for me. In addition to the LV one you mention, his record with Roska on Numbers still gets a lot of play around here.

flynn  on October 26, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Don’t know much about this new record yet, but the Stereo Freeze single for R&S is classic. Heard it a lot of times on the dancefloor; the result reminds me of the awesome parties when someone from Warp came into town.

Bill Cartwright  on October 27, 2011 at 6:57 AM

Thank you for your reasonable response to my overreactionary comment. I mentioned that I had a problem with just the intro to the review and not the review itself, but I should’ve realized that the conclusion you’ve reached in your intro was the result of actually having heard Little Things Like That.

“For me, these tracks demonstrate how a producer can sound like no one else *while simultaneously* not being all that cutting-edge or forward-looking or (if you’re me) enjoyable.” – This is a good point and it’s where I agreed with Andrew Ryce’s review of Blawan’s What You Do. I don’t feel the same way about Untold’s work prior to this EP, but fair enough.

I thought of mentioning the Roska thing, but I just assumed you’d put that in your “too much/too tough” category. I may be wrong, but I think the difference between us is that you enjoy Untold most when he’s playful and weird in a more lighthearted, goofy way, while I enjoy him applying the same template to the darker, more intense stuff as well.

I agree, adding “in my opinion” is unnecessary in a review. I mean, I even hate adding it to a comment because it’s redundant. I had more of a problem with you switching from “I” to “us” at the end of the first paragraph. I take back the “objective fact” bit. That was dumb.

I don’t know…maybe I’m just projecting my own bias here, but I think the few producers who make inventive yet “hard” music get the short shrift from critics, while thousands of boring Joy Orbison knockoffs featuring the same increasingly trite gimmicks get praised. This isn’t really a comment on LWE (you guys don’t really review too much bass music anyway), but on critics in general.

Anyway, I’ve taken up enough space here. Again, thank you for the response and a sincere apology for comparing you to Pitchfork (that was a low blow).

Craig Gordon  on October 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM

I really like this Untold EP. It’s a totally new direction for him (unless i’ve missed a previous straight techno release?) This is a tough, pounding track that will do big things on the floor.

pedals  on November 1, 2011 at 8:50 PM

a great review.
No, I haven’t heard the track yet either.
However I feel the same as the reviewer as regards Untold’s trajectory – paragraph one summarises well.
I fear that I will agree with the conclusion too and find this 12 to be a further contraction of this producer’s range and promise.
And I fear also that we will be having this same commentary about Blawan next year.

Unsold  on November 3, 2011 at 1:19 PM

I’ve heard the two tracks in question—and your all buggin. This EP is hard as fuck.

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on November 4, 2011 at 12:01 PM


So strange you woudl say that Blawan would be having the same commentary as this review. This is RA’s review of the Blawan EP apropiately named “What You Do With What You Have”:

Me personally I think people like to complicate things too much when it comes down to music. The Untold EP sounds good. It works for my sets & radio shows. There is nothing wrong with Untold going more techno. Versatility is the key for me. Dubstep is really a cousin of broken beat so that will come & go… People will eventually go back to house & techno. That will never go away… It is the most timeless form of electronica…

pedals  on November 8, 2011 at 2:30 AM

@ thelonious funk
wow, am I a bit late with my predicted timeframe or is RA a bit early with their take down…….?
I still worry that blawan is gonna be ‘lettin us down’ at some point but I wouldn’t have said that ‘what you do’ is the record that has done that. It’s context and expectation isn’t it? 2.5 is a hard score but he’s a producer with a high standard to live up to.
As for dubstep, post dubstep, techno continuum thing, I feel we in the washing machine at the mo. And like when your waiting in the laundromat it’s better not to clock watch.

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on November 10, 2011 at 11:10 AM


I thought that was quite a harsh review. I actually felt “letting me down” was not that good to me. Yet it received almost perfect rasting. I thought “What You Do With What You Have” was a superb EP. In fact Vibe Decorium is the highlight of that ep.

ey  on November 28, 2011 at 5:37 PM

I like it – not enough to buy the vinyl, but still. somewhat functional and not at all inventive. but still s pair of good club tracks.

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