Taking a cue from fellow french meistros Deep Forest, Onra has followed a path that allows him to travel to different continents and create albums based around the local sounds. On his latest album 1.0.8, his choice of samples come from vinyl he has collected within his chosen country of India.
While his previous outing Chinoiseries was a mash up of samples collected while on a trip to Viet Nam and while the product was a fairly long winded excursion through Asian soundtracks cut and spliced with urban beats, his latest has the feel of a well loved Bollywood feature.
Onra is evidently a disciple of hip-hop, his style of choice being a blend of instrumental hip-hop and R&B with a light trip hop flavour. A style truly brought to the masses by DJ Shadow it is a sound that is perfectly suited to a lazy sunday or a club set in a downtempo side room. From track to track the album keeps a warm even flow and has enough twists and turns to keep the listener interested without throwing any unexpected surprises in the mix.
While the genre is full of artists that might have a good ear for a sound, as a rule the general problem is that tracks are left running for too long, and when you have 3 minutes of a single loop it can grow old very quicky. Onra, fortunately, seems to have this in mind and keeps the tracks kicking along at a fairly cracking pace. While the odd loop runs itself a little cold, on the whole the album is over far too quickly and it’s a credit to his ear for interesting sounds and quality production that this is the case.
The overall sound of 1.0.8 is very low-fi and it isn’t an album that you will be listening to for it’s finer points…. it’s an album mixed and engineered to sound closer to your old 45 than to the latest DTS/ES Surround Sound DVD. With a few standout tracks (Hard Times/Closer/Reminisce) that will have you calling out for some of your mates finest home grown, Onra takes big steps forward from Chinoiseries. His debut album hinted at bigger things but its 30 tracks felt somewhat rushed, and the Asian motif grew old long before the album closed its last track. Here however he has found a sound that is far more pliable to his style of sampling and the Indian influence is never overbearing, allowing itself to be taken both tongue-in-cheek and with a grimy more ‘serious’ edge all in good measure. If you are looking for an album as background music, or are planning an afternoon in and want to turn your thoughts off for a few hours then this is a fine addition to your collection that I’m sure will get plenty of rotation.