‘Eye-opening voice notes and recordings of his family members create a window into Joy’s family life that almost feels invasive‘
Joy Orbison’s Still Slipping Vol. 1, a 14-tune mixtape that explores a diverse range of musical influences as well as the delicate psyche of someone enduring lockdowns as expressed through the contravening concepts of family and isolation. The mixtape is the sonification of the feeling of being disconnected from our loved ones and the way this manifests in our thoughts and responses.
The comical reminiscent stories older family members tell are present in the opener, “w/ dad & Frankie” – a tune that acts as the silk handkerchief to the mod and London suedehead clobber his dad and uncle are discussing: a polished and thoughtful touch, which when present, changes the overall makeup of the album completely. The sadder elements of family that all can relate to in some shape, or another are likewise visible, such as “in drink”, where Joy’s Mum discusses her parents first getting heavily involved with alcohol.
With the time of coronavirus being the age of isolation, the concept is explored throughout the mixtape multifacetedly, with subsequent paranoia being felt on tracks such as “glorius amateurs”. Loneliness does not always have to be negative, however, which Joy acknowledges in “Bernard?”, a bizarre love triangle between gothic trap, isolation and empowerment. Likewise, one of the shining stars of the mixtape, “Better (w/ Léa Sen)”, is a shapeshifting track that is inspiriting yet brings with it feelings of complete desolation and is also an example of the way some tracks’ uplifting nature is explored is through collaboration – something we have all done to combat coronavirus.
Musically, Joy Orbison has been playing a significant role shaping the sounds of dancefloors since “Hyph Mngo” was released 12 years ago, tearing up the underground scene. The usual drum ‘n’ bass and garage rhythms are present alongside elements of house and techno that we have all grown to love on tracks like “Born Slipping” in which Tyson’s vocal chops match the synths incredibly and “Swag w/ Kav” which offers flashes of nostalgia through the minimal 2-step sound as well as poet and artist James Massiah wonderfully crediting the genres that have influenced dance music of today. Ever-developing, however, Joy, embracing the progressive soul of the musical vanguard explores his love for more industrial sounds, adding touches of post-punk throughout the record. This culminates in tunes that are not like anything we’ve heard from him before but are still immediately recognisable as his. “’Rraine (w/ Edna)” is one example, as is “Sparko (w/ Herron)” which zigzags between vocal melodies and a harder, more rivethead beat and “Playground” where on top of this similar sound, listeners are treated to Goya Gumbani’s unerring delivery. This track hilariously finishes with a voice note from his sister about her and their mum enjoying a day out drinking porn star martinis and daquiris in a car and heading home to make weed cookies – an amazingly adventurous day out for being in lockdown.
The coronavirus period has been tough – riddled with uncertainty and anguish yet brimming with hope. The left-field project has captured that to a wonderful extent, with its changes in direction being increasingly appreciated every time our nails get deeper into it. A wonderful experience produced by a man who simply cannot miss.
Words: Harry Gibson