Overdue debut album from the influential Sheffield producer.
Ben Arnold 2012
Sheffield's Oris Jay Darqwan releases a most overdue debut album here for Texture, the label he founded in 2003. More content to immerse himself in the role of selector, having been a disciple of bass legends Winston Hazel and Hooligan X in his hometown of Sheffield, Jay entered into production as a secondary pursuit.
Still, he's been producing a handful of tracks, remixes and dubplates each year for the likes of Tectonic and Planet Mu: large, wobbling, bass-weighted things, and often key issues like his pivotal breakstep smasher Said the Spider. But whichever way you slice it, To the Fly has been a long time coming, particularly considering his stature in the scene.
As a resident at the fledgling FWD>> when it launched its assault on the London club scene in 2001, he brought with him the sound of bleeps and bass that had emanated from the Steel City since the early days of Warp (and before), smashing them together with the grimey bedroom-produced sounds of east London.
He also straddled the emerging world of dubstep and the broken beats of West London, and even breaks and drum ‘n’ bass. He’s an electronic journeyman of sorts – just as long as the bass is rumbling.
To the Fly may be an opportunity to pin him down. His history is inescapable from the opener, the dark garage anthem Flow So Hot; with MC Shinobi on board, it's like a lost pirate radio cut. Boosi begins innocuously enough, before delivering a sturdy cushion of flubbering bass. Both Steels and Heathen Sound have those Sheffield bleeps in abundance, with MC DRS toasting up the latter.
It's not all unabashed triumph. Flashing Light, with vocalist Harper Lake, feels lightweight, its refrain of “play, rewind, repeat” seeming uncomfortably clichéd. It's better when tracks like the sparse Raze come out fighting, and I'm Chosen packs a glut of percussion and Detroit stabs.
For a producer who had no intention of producing music, this is slickly done. And he's clearly taken his time. Over a decade of it, in fact.