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Darius leans into nostalgic grooves on his second cut OASIS

"OASIS"

Release date: 22 April 2022
7/10
Darius OASIS
21 April 2022, 10:30 Written by Dave Russell
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Darius has spent the past ten years building up a catalogue of introspective EPs, albums and remixes that find their roots in French house, electro and disco. For his latest outing, OASIS (released via Roche Musique), the producer has turned to the past for inspiration, mining his own nostalgia for the music of his teen years. The result is a record that‘s as soothing as it is danceable.

While Darius’ music has consistently traded on blissed-out grooves, OASIS doubles down on funk, soul, and disco inflected sounds. Bass is frequently the driving force behind the album’s songs; whether it’s the slippery, disco-leaning bass lines of “EQUILIBRIUM” and “EASE YOUR MIND,” or the spacious, neo-soul groove on “RISE” – and while the producer’s roots in French house are still present, it’s these affectionate nods to the music of his past that really give OASIS its distinct character. Darius shifts between these reference points in an almost dream-like manner, deftly avoiding pastiche and inviting us to escape with him into the rabbit hole of musical nostalgia.

In the process of making the record, Darius challenged himself to expand his sonic palette – taking lessons in jazz and soul piano, and stepping away from the computer to work with more live instrumentation. This is perhaps the biggest thing that distinguishes OASIS from his previous records, contributing to a subtle but important shift in how the music feels. OASIS oozes warmth from top to bottom, embodying a looseness that’s hard to achieve within the constraints of sample packs and programmed drums. Nowhere is this more evident than on the fantastically airy “NOTHING TO ME,” which sees Kadhja Bonet’s smooth vocals floating over a tightly syncopated rhythm section. The drumming is particularly noteworthy – full of soft fills and satisfying accents – but the whole arrangement is firmly in the pocket, giving the song a lived-in, organic feel.

OASIS is a light listen. Even its most energised moments have a calming feel; and tracks like “FADED” show that Darius is capable of producing songs that are laid-back but still full of personality. However, the record is somewhat less successful in the instrumentals, especially “WINTER SADNESS” and “SUNDAY,” which sound bland and thin alongside the welcoming rhythms of the rest of the album. Despite this, OASIS largely succeeds in its ambition to provide a moment of escapism from everyday life, and is another string to the bow of a producer who continues to defy easy categorisation.

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