Is it ever not a big deal when Joy Orbison releases a track? It seems impossible that anything produced by a mere human could match the buzz surrounding his ultra-auspicious debut, “Hyph Mngo,” but that flashpoint just feels like the beginning; from “Sicko Cell” (a track definitely not in any way produced by the man born Peter O’Grady, of course) through his recent run of Boddika collabs culminating in “Swims,” the Briton only seems to have become more captivating. It certainly helps that his material tends to bounce around for awhile in the DJ sets of the well-connected and in YouTube rips clipped from those DJ sets: his physical releases aren’t so much 12″s as repositories of all the excitement surrounding them, collected over months of fleeting contact.
Joy Orbison, “Ellipsis”
But as Chris Miller asked in his “Hyph Mngo” review back in 2009, why is our enthusiasm for Joy Orbison so outsized compared to what we express for his peers? He’s not the only producer whose tunes have a life before they’re officially released, and he certainly isn’t the only guy making weighty, uptempo house tunes. “Ellipsis,” his latest for his and Trilogy Tapes boss Will Bankhead’s Hinge Finger label, may provide an answer for what makes him so special to so many. In typical Joy O fashion, the track landed on YouTube well over a year ago — ripped from a Boddika appearance on Benji B’s Radio 1 show, appropriately — and its legend quickly grew. Finally pressed to wax and available to the masses in full, the track is as good as we thought it’d be, and it’s indicative of what makes Joy O such a uniquely talented producer.
“Ellipsis” is at its heart a balancing act: its buttery ambience and now-iconic vocal (snipped from a 1996 interview with Source Direct’s Phil Aslett) coax you into otherwise razor-sharp sound design, with its face-slapping hi-hats an insidious acid bass line eying you menacingly from the bushes. At once sternly peaktime-ish and playfully airy, grittily underground and atypically catchy — you can hear all these vibes simultaneously in the forceful piano stomp pumping up the track’s second movement — it occupies a space all Joy Orbison’s own. Rene Pawlowitz’s blistering remix as Head High (much gushed over online as well, albeit on a compressed timetable) manages to be a whole lot at once as well: quite a bit rougher on ears and bodies than the original, it’s nevertheless as detailed and intricate as anything we’ve heard out of Shed’s studio. If “hype” implies something that can never be lived up to, then “Ellipsis” and its remix are products of something else entirely — reasonably gargantuan expectations.