The much-loved producer returns with six hypnotic tracks.
Between 2013 and 2017, O'Grady didn't release any solo material, preferring to focus on his prolific partnership with Boddika. When the duo parted ways, O'Grady went back to writing alone, only now he favoured a trackier style over the catchy hooks and big moments of pre-Boddika bombs like "Ellipsis" and "Sicko Cell." The results were mixed—some tunes banged, others less so. Nothing, I would argue, matched up to his earlier material. (Granted, those were some of the best club tracks of the past decade.) 81b bucks that trend. It's not quite a club smash, but it's awesome in a different way: deeper, hypnotic, more refined.
The closest the EP comes to a dance floor hit is the brilliant opener, "Seed." Even so, the pace is patient, the mood shadowy and the power all in the swing of the drums, which ram and rattle beneath breathy cries of "follow me." "COYP," a reference to O'Grady's beloved Crystal Palace F.C., is also all about the core rhythm, this one rude and slinky, like woozy reggaeton. The loop could go for days. "Tennov6teen" is similarly mesmerising, though beatless, with tranquil synths arpeggiating across a faint hissing plain. Simple and radiant, it'd work well as a mid-set breather.
The rest of the EP is housier. "Belly" and "Sin Palta" both carry traces of the recent 12-inch on Hessle Audio, with jazzy melodies that glitch and writhe beneath a thick layer of dust. "Belly" is more downtempo, one for earlier in the night, while "Sin Palta" is firm and linear, though with a smoky, late-night soul. That same hazy film coats the closing title track, which saunters gracefully along at 100 BPM. Again, no real pyrotechnics, just a cosy bassline, a few cosmic zips and zaps and the muffled voice of a sloshed robot. Like so much of 81b, the devil is in the detail.