Like many people, I first heard Joy Orbison via his 2009 single “Hyph Mngo,” an underground smash that rode in on the post-dubstep wave sweeping electronic music at the time and marked the arrival of an innovative new producer. Since then, he’s carved out a niche for himself as a crafter of forward-thinking future sounds, placing himself among a bumper crop of leftfield DJ/producers like Call Super, Pearson Sound and Blawan, among others. Surprisingly, despite a handful of stellar singles/EPs and more than 10 years in the underground spotlight, still slipping vol. 1 is Joy Orbison’s first proper full length project. But it only takes one listen to realize it was well worth the wait.
Billed as a mixtape and an album, still slipping vol. 1 is a journey that slowly unravels over 14 tracks that traverse the world of future garage, post-dubstep and bass music. Unlike most of his previous club-oriented work, the music here feels airy and delicate. The album is also interspersed with a series of voice notes from Joy Orbison’s family (his only contact with them during the year of lockdown), including the cousin who introduced him to the world of UK dance music that helped spark his life’s pursuit. These voices imbue the album with an air of intimacy and warmth rarely experienced in electronic music. You can tell the album was a highly personal and solitary creation.
Joy described the album as something to soundtrack people’s bus trips, and it’s a very fitting descriptor. For me, it’s been on repeat during long, solitary walks and cycling excursions as of late. It’s great for listening while in motion, the alternating tempos and styles lending themselves to the ebb and flow of the journey and passing scenery. It’s also a bold step in a new direction for Joy Orbison, a huge elevation of his art and hands down one of the year’s best albums.