Event Review: Ben UFO and Joy Orbison at the Hydra
The two DJs go back-to-back for a wide-ranging night of beats-and-bass magic.
Wapping is probably not the first choice for weekend frolics, unless you’re looking for a historic docklands tour or two halves of shandy at a dusty boozer. The Hydra, however, seem to be looking to change this. Taken from Greek mythology, its name translates as the ‘beast with many heads,’ an apt title for an event series so diverse. Over the next month, their schedule covers everyone from early-hour Berliners Ben Klock and Nick Höppner to the sugar-dusted house musings of Derrick Carter and Julio Bashmore.
Their most recent booking, Ben UFO and Joy Orbison, have arguably been just as expansive in their exploits. The pair have cut their teeth on everything from late ’00s dubstep to various revisions of dub, jungle, house, techno and so on. Admittedly, booking them as individuals may not be the most groundbreaking of moves, considering they have both been regular fixtures on the London club circuit for some time now—but Saturday, October 17 offered the rare opportunity to hear both artists play back to back, all night long. Their selections are well in sync by now, having shared plenty of flyer-space together in the past.
Upon returning to Studio Spaces for the first time in a while, it was nice to see that they’ve opened up a new entrance to the club, alleviating the threat of a 6am logjam of sweat-drenched Hessle pilgrims at the end of the night. Also, the venue seems to have also addressed the feverish temperatures that have been problematic before (although queuing for the toilet still took about as long as it did for me to get my deposit back from my last flat). Stepping into the venue’s lofty warehouse setting, we were greeted by a selection of docile electronics, echoing dub and bumping, low-slung hip-hop in the first half hour, banishing any doubts that the pair might have lost their eclectic tastes.
You felt as if you could have been listening in on an afternoon mix between the two at home, happily cutting between styles without worrying to much about settling into one style too readily. Initially, this felt somewhat disjointed—but as as the loose-hipped groove of Joe‘s “MB” boomed between the brick pillars, things began to take shape. Following a healthy dose of jacked up 4/4, it was nice to hear the mix peppered with plenty of tracks from the usual Hessle Audio cohort, with Objekt‘s “Unglued” or Pangaea‘s “Hex” sounding as formidable as you might expect on the Hydra’s bespoke Funktion-One soundsystem.
Recently, someone took the liberty of posting Ben UFO’s 2010 mix cassette for The Trilogy Tapes online. The mix provides a good example of the diversity of styles covered over the night, meandering between everything from itchy garage shufflers, crumpled fax-machine house and testosterone pumped grime. Ben UFO and Joy O’s ability to traverse these without descending into some sort of weird dance-music medley feels like something to be treasured, and all the more so for the effortlessness with which they do it. Holding a room in this way is no easy feat—and the value of pairing two acts who’ve honed their craft as much as these two should not be underestimated.