His name may not be one that instantly jumps out at you when UK bass music is mentioned. You may have heard of him by another moniker. Either way, Oris Jay a.k.a Darqwan can be described as nothing less than a trail blazer in his chosen field.
He’s no newbie neither, first launching on to the Jungle scene in the early 90s. In the time since that initial impact was made, he has defined his sound, a weighty yet busy affair. The new album – To The Fly (his first full length offering), released on Texture, combines not only the names he has previously released under, but the many styles he has so superbly represented over the years.
A consistent theme throughout is the depth of sound; ten tonne bass lines that you know are coming, yet are made to wait for with almost Tarantino style suspense. You can hear hints of fellow visionaries across many of the tracks. “Don’t Know Who” has the darkness of Leofah – Mud, “Boosi” has the drum shuffle of Skream – Check It, there’s an EZ-ness to “Flashing Light”. Not for one minute though am I suggesting Jay has been unoriginal in his delivery, if anything I would say, his sound and production style were likely front of mind for the aforementioned peers during their composition process.
The album showcases the full breadth of Darqwan’s interest, which in stand alone track form is spot on. In LP format though it does feel a little disjointed at times. Some of the vocal collabs overshadow what would be, in my humble opinion, stronger instrumental cuts. All this said, as a representation of a multi decade career in the UK electronic arena, To The Fly does tell the Oris Jay story; where he’s been, how he’s soaked that up and how he wants you to hear it.
I am now anxiously awaiting the drop of the title track to pile drive me into 100 Hz of heaven at Outlook later this month. Bring it!
Summer is a season characterised by songs that keep popping up everywhere – at festivals, on tv and most importantly in your head. Whilst the following cuts are unlikely to receive heavy R1 airtime they are worthy waypoints on your path to a happy summer.
Jai Paul – Jasmine (XL)
Technically speaking this is a Spring song, released digitally as it was on 9 April. However, the vinyl release dropped more recently giving us a nice excuse to fly the flag for a track that passed some by. This is only Jai Paul’s second release on XL and both are special. In contrast to the thundering, base heavy debut BTSTU, Jasmine is a softer, more luxurious love episode that evokes Prince. Lush chords, wobbling synths and funk guitar make this an ethereal delight.
To quote the great Ron Burgundy, this is baby making music.
Hackman – Forgotten Notes (RAMP Recordings)
Originally produced by Saine in 2011, Hackman takes the acoustic guitar and longing melody and escalates it to toe-tapping territory. Hackman was definitely a big fan of the original (‘best bit of music i’ve heard in aggeeeees :)’ he commented on Saine’s soundcloud) and it shows in the production; overlaying a two-step vocal and pitching it up to 115bpm, Hackman puts a bounce into the track.
Best enjoyed with an ice cold brewski on a rooftop bar.
Jacques Greene – Ready EP (3024)
Jacques Greene had me at Another Girl, one of the standout tech hits of 2011. The Montreal-based producer worked the vocal and drop so effectively on that cut that I wondered whether his best days were behind him. Thankfully, he has limited his releases to high quality output only, effortlessly remixing Radiohead’s Lotus Flower and now dropping the double A-side (triple if you get the digital version) that is the Ready EP. Grittier than Another Girl, this one snarls like a caged beast, recoiling and then erupting with tough beats and 80s cop chase bass. Check Prism for a more pensive, throbbing sound.
Gym music par excellence.
Koreless – Lost in Tokyo (Vase)
Jacques Greene also provides remix duties for Koreless’ latest release, though on this occasion even a Mr Greene re-imagining cannot take the limelight away from the original. Koreless aka Glasgow born Lewis Roberts has been producing dream-speed beats for a couple of years now, honing his measured 2-step sound since Maria, via Up Down Up Down and the monumental 4D to arrive at Lost in Tokyo, a 3′ 38″ masterpiece. The now common multi-pitched vocal rests easily atop a metronomic clave and sombre organ to create a modest, otherworldly and soulful epic.
Have someone pipe this to you under the waves in the Mediterranean.
Haydn – Manchild (Brownswood Recordings)
Manchild can be found on the latest incarnation of the ever reliable Brownswood Bubblers series but this track stands head and shoulders above the rest. Wobbling base and sweeping synths waft Haydn’s lilting vocals across a desert of reverberating snares, background sounds flit in and out and all the while Manchild coasts along effortlessly. Hailing from Brooklyn and having worked with the likes of Fatima and Jesse Boykins iii already, Hadyn’s lo-fi sound has a very bright future indeed.
Let this be the last thing you hear before turning in.