Album Reviews

Oriol – Night And Day

(Planet Mu) UK release date: 19 July 2010

Oreos. Tasty chocolate biscuit treats sandwiching vanilla cream. Delicious as a snack, but overwhelming when taken – like anything – in abundance. Oreos can be eaten in many ways – you may have seen the adverts demonstrating the versatility of the biscuit.

Oriol Singhji, however, is a London-based producer signed to Planet Mu. Night And Day is his debut release and it tastes remarkably unlike an Oreo. Try sandwiching the two records together with a delicious homemade vanilla icing and you’ll suffer for it. This record should come with a warning.

Like a registration plate twirling in the wake of a recently arrived DeLorean DMC-12,�a couple of recent releases from Planet Mu could have come spinning directly from the ’80s. Ceephax Acid Crew, Starkey and Rudi Zygadlo have all stitched the late�’80s glitched influence into their releases and Oriol has no intention of shirking the fashion.

In place of half-stepping, Garage influenced Dubstep or Psychedelic Techno is a slick, jazzy journey that draws heavily on House, Rn’B, Soul and Funk. Though the nomenclature of ‘Joy FM’ shares some similarity with Hudson Mohawke‘s Joy Fantastic, the production style is nowhere near as neon. If Ceephax Acid Crew represents the analogue electronica of Planet Mu, it’s Oriol who keeps it digital.

Although Oriol is content to slip in slap bass to underpin his own brand of disco-funk, the perpetual use of G-funk electro synth lines to provide melody offsets any danger of the listener mistaking this for a truly�organic dance album. Rigidly quantized kick drums and snares syncopated with their hi-hat partners provide a solid backing, but there is never any danger of Oriol’s funk being set loose.

That’s not a�bad thing really as Night And Day is a continuously impressive album. Memories is the sole track to conjure up early ’90s ecstatic rave and is as much of a wistful backwards nod to Theo Parrish as it is to ’90s pop culture. The bulk of the album, however, is rooted firmly in territory that producers such as Babyface, Bobby Brown, Rick James, Quincy Jones and the like once inhabited: the era that Dam Funk never wanted to leave.

Coconut Coast, for example, contains shifting bell progressions reminiscent of Michael Jackson‘s Human Nature, but as covered by SWV. Though the New Jack Swing that ran from the ’80s into the ’90s is evident, the thing that impresses most about Night And Day is the album’s development of those sounds within a present day context. So, yes, we may fear R Kelly and wish he had stayed in the ’90s, but Oriol manages to positively embrace those clich�d US musical values and to turn them into a summery wash of euphoric (and slightly silly) dance.

Along with Ital Tek and Ceephax Acid Crew, Planet Mu have just released another great dance record for 2010. But don’t eat it; it’s not that kind of tasty.

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Oriol – Night And Day