Most of your first listen, or maybe even your first ten listens, of Untold's debut album will be like that: confusing, ominous and totally unfriendly. The Londoner's work has always been severe, but Black Light Spiral takes it to an almost scary place. Made in a blitz before a move (home and studio) to Hertford, it's a blackened piece of music that seems to suck in all the light around it, indulging in the deepest and darkest impulses of techno. The genre appears only in shards, hidden in the feedback-soaked "Drop It On The One" or the choppy "Doubles." On the latter, the determined kick drum sounds like it's thumping through water, while hissing sounds and dull thuds stand in for chords.
Black Light Spiral is made up of implacable noise and unearthly synth sounds, and the results are often ugly—it's the Mr. Hyde to Matthew Herbert's Dr. Jekyll. The sounds on "Wet Wool" and "Hobthrush" are too scorched to place, ashen and jagged, while "Strange Dreams" sounds like Dunning boxing with Perc using brass knuckles. Arriving just three tracks into the album, it's "Sing A Love Song" that's the most striking, however. This one strangles the comforting throb of dub until it's a skanking Frankenstein of misshapen loops and harsh cuts, equally likely to induce head banging as it is to make you reach for the "skip" button.
Even after months of sitting with it, Black Light Spiral still feels like a surprise. 40 minutes of unrelenting rancour, the best aspect of the album is also the worst: it's alienating in way that might actually alienate you, and keep you from revisiting. With another reinvention around the corner—Dunning's sights are now set firmly on modular synths—it looks like Black Light Spiral will be a cul-de-sac instead of a new direction, which makes it all the more strangely alluring. One thing's for sure: for an artist who once self-deprecatingly described himself as "just another dubstep producer washing up on techno's beach," he's definitely not trying to please anyone but himself.