dOP – Greatest Hits (Circus Company)

Don’t be misled by the title of this album. This is not another of those re-hashed collections of old tunes, put together with the principal purpose of squeezing the last few drops of revenue from a wilting musical flower. Quite the contrary in fact; aside from the opener (which is taken from dOP’s debut EP) Greatest Hits is compiled of entirely new material, and right from the outset it is clear that Clement, Dam and JAW are an inspired trio with a brimful of ideas and a tale to tell that looks destined to stretch far beyond the constraints of these 14 tracks.
A breath of fresh air since they burst onto the underground house scene 3 years ago, dOP have surprised and delighted any dance floor that has felt the lick of their of their vodka fuelled live sets, and productions made up of real instrumentation and devious, sultry vocals. Their credentials as genuine musicians with roots laid in rock, jazz, hip hop, reggae, classical, folk and African music projects, shine through on this record with each influence sporadically flittering in and out of earshot above the brooding house beats which bind them together.

Another major contribution comes from Emmanuel d’Orlando, a French composer known for his work on scores for theatre and film. His emotive arrangements, performed by the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra, masterfully offset the more club orientated moments. They meander in tempo and tone, and delve far deeper than the conventional dance floor patterns of intro-drop-breakdown-drop (repeat), culminating in a soundtrack that could fittingly grace a civilised soiree as much as a sordid after party.

The scene is set in ‘Worm Hunting’; a crackling, dusty appetizer, whilst ‘No More Daddy’ provides a taste of JAWs dulcet tones over a lolloping piano riff which duefully dissolves into a delightful filtered synth hook. The first real stomper of a beat comes in ‘1 Gram’ in which rolling snares and sharp claps paint a picture of a military procession as epic strings build and fall around them. ‘Talk Show’ is a jazzy affair straight from the smoky basements of Paris in contrast to ‘Happy Meal’, a tale told by a twisted cannibalistic mind, lusting ravenously over each limb of his subject. Acclaimed Calypso drummer Andy Narell joins the cast for ‘UR’ in which Caribbean and African textures spar in the form of tribal chants simmering beneath his haunting steel drum patterns. We are taken on a stunning journey, through growling bass and forlorn, wailing cries to the solace of a beautiful guitar refrain and then back again in ‘Love Ride’.

Next, dOP reach back into their seemingly bottomless box of instruments, selecting an accordion to plunge us deep into the bumping New York nightlife. The best showcase of d’Orlando and his orchestral take on dOP’s mystical soundscapes comes in ‘Final Dive’, before ‘Deaf Wagrant’ rounds up the album with a beatless bedtime story that builds to a crescendo of chugging snares and chiming bells, contented, eventually, to drift off to sleep.

dOP have poured their heart and soul into this album. It is full of variety yet perfectly cohesive with each listen uncovering a new surprise and invoking a different emotion. A true masterpiece.

Words // Nick Whttingham