Hemlock Recordings began its journey back in 2008. The independent record label, which is based in London, has gone on to output some of the unrivalled names in the left field electronic scene.
With releases from James Blake, Randomer, Ramadanman (Pearson Sound’s first alias) and head honcho Untold, the label has dug a path for dubstep’s new direction and continued experimentation in a unique and historic scene.
Hemlock’s boss Jack Dunning, aka Untold, has solidified his imprint in the bass scene for almost 10 years, with his first release Kingdom coming out on Hessle Audio back in 2008 and other releases on labels such as R&S, Hotlflush and of course Hemlock. The head honcho has become a trailblazer in colliding tentative frequencies with cavernous patterns and has one hell of an eye for an exquisite release.
With all this praise, we kindly asked Untold to send across some of his favourite releases since the beginning days of Hemlock’s creation.
1. James Blake – Air and Lack Thereof
This was the first track that we actively hunted down and signed for the label in an A&R sense (hold tight Distance for debuting it on his Rinse show sometime in 2008) James initially downplayed the uniqueness of Air & Lack, convinced it was a mere emulation of ‘DMZ’ founder Mala. For us it was a killer introduction, and an obvious signal that he was about unleash a barrage of incredible music. We had to scramble around to get some press photographs taken when the release got Mixmag ‘Single of the Month” James had no idea what a Mixmag was, amused at how gassed we were about it.
2. Ramadanman – Glut
Released in the summer of 2010, this was already a vintage year for a rapidly expanding scene rooted from weekly pilgrimages to FWD>>. Addison Groove had just written ‘Footcrab’ which was blowing up, UK Funky was in full swing, Ben UFO began properly going-in playing extended sets of vintage US House mixed with UK dubplates. The quality of output was very high and each week there seemed to be another anthem appearing in someone’s bag. See also ‘Woo Glut’.
3. Untold – Motion the Dance
In 2012 the label went through some big changes. Co-founder Andy Spencer left to concentrate on his design career. Dubstep had taken on a whole new meaning and I was feeling the pressure to make something original that would be compatible with Techno. One session I remember playing the intro melody and locking it with the kick drum pattern and instantly knew it was a keeper.
4. Randomer – Bring
I remember pleading with Randomer to agree to release this tune – he thought it was too simplistic but I knew it was destined to rip-up certain dancefloors. It was initially fairly well received but I had no idea it would later take on a such life of its own. It’s just one of those rare tracks that manages to find its way into setlists from all styles of Techno. With 1.4 million views on our Youtube channel it’s also the most widely heard music from the label.
5. Joe – Club Scared
I still don’t understand the angle Joe was coming from when writing and commissioning the vocal performance. It’s very much part of the strange and wonderful world of Joe that shows no sign of losing its’ mystique as the years go by. I’ve witnessed ‘Club Scared’ being dropped in many different contexts and they all bring a smile to my face. Sometimes aggressively with a heavier beat underneath, or maybe inserted starkly and jettisoning any accumulated momentum. Sometimes people just laugh when the vocal comes in while others refuse to dance.
6. Hodge – Blood Moon
It’s been a pleasure working with Hodge as he’s a really pro-active guy and works hard at things like getting the best mixdowns he can, also promoting the release further down the line. This track was the first I signed from a batch of dubs that had a looser sonic and geographic identity than his work on Punch Drunk and other Bristol-based labels. ‘Blood Moon’ is just such a solid, simply constructed track that always works when I hear it out.
7. Parris – Your Kiss is Sour
..just gives me shivers whenever I listen – it’s as if the music is inverted somehow, where the main ‘drop’ is actually a vacuous breakdown. Like Goldie’s ‘Terminator’ but in vapour form.
8. Bruce – In Line
A track that couldn’t really exist without what has come before, that doesn’t explicitly reference a particular genre or style. I love the forward momentum of the drums and the high frequency sound design.
9. Untold – Gonna Work Out Fine
Sums up my take on the optimism of the period, where each week there were new dubplates and mutations appearing from what felt like a bottomless pool of ideas. Looking back there were so many structures in place facilitating that, from the listening room of FWD>> to a distributor like S.T. Holdings who were fully engaged and pushing for weirder music, encouraging everyone to take risks.
10. Ploy – Unruly
This is the A side from the new Ploy EP which I love. Really technical resonant drums, fills all over the place – sounds absolutely deadly on a loud sound system.
Ploy’s Unruly EP is out now on Hemlock Recordings. More info here.