A rising star in UK dance music, OR:LA is one to keep a close eye on. One of our top 5 of the 2016 Warehouse Project series selectors, the Derry producer and DJ has been riding the crest of a wave on both sides of the Irish Sea, all down to her embracing ear for genuinely exciting sounds. Her Meine Nacht night in Liverpool has not only hosted pioneers of a similarly flavourful and diverse ilk - Kornél Kovács, for example - but also pursues a clubbing experience like no other in secret, disused locations nestled across the city. Just as suited to play alongside Helena Hauff as she is Moodymann, it's her prismatic approach to the dancefloor which forms both flesh and blood of her latest release on Scuba’s Hotflush Recordings - UK Lonely.
Contrary to its title this new EP does not stand ostracised or isolated, but is instead deeply immersed and intertwined within the long tradition of the UK underground: breaks and dubstep form its driving force, stuttering and fluttering over deep garage and house grooves. On the title track, choppy off-kilter percussions slice through the silky samples of Erykah Badu’s On & On, as washed-out reverberating vocals and a distinct synthesised ringing evoke timeless garage over the breakbeats of X & O. Limbosoup interrupts this, its hollowed percussion and celestial synths the closest the EP gets to driving four-to-the-floor bounciness.
Rounding things off with the shimmering synths and bleeps of Jaipur, OR:LA’s command of sonic space is what makes UK Lonely a truly engrossing listen; moments flicker in and around this otherworldly chamber of sound, striking close or reverberating in the distance. It's a release that is at once glittering and grooving, with textures embedded in the UK underground's past whilst simultaneously pushing these sounds into the future. Finding itself on the very label that is home to the likes of Paul Woolford’s Untitled and Joy Orbison’s Hyph Mngo, OR:LA’s own stamp on this established imprint is but one testimony to the stamp she is making - and will continue to make - on wider dance music culture.
Words: Josie Roberts