Only two years after the release of her highly successful album For you and I, Loraine James has placed another corker of an album into our clamouring hands. Originally from North London, James has produced three startling albums in almost as many years. She is consistently challenging, and improving, IDM and as one of few prominent queer black women in electronic music she has not shied away from the barriers that a predominantly male and white industry have created.
Reflection, released on the 4th of June, was produced over lockdown and adds another clever, punchy and thought-provoking string to James’ already long line of accomplishments, which are even more mind-blowing to behold when you consider that fact that she is just 25.
Resident Advisor recently described her music as ‘abrasive and vulnerable’ and I feel this perfectly sums up this release. The album was produced in a year littered with restrictions that seemed to pile up continuously. As they built, so did our need for release and freedom. Many of us are now grasping, with a very tight grip I might add, the prospect of a sybaritic summer. On one hand, the album is soft and reflective, emotionally tangible and reflecting deep exploration. Yet almost simultaneously it builds within a feeling of excitement, as if we can gently begin to relax into the hedonism drawing near. The whole album is restless and is not something that you want to absent mindedly listen to; you want to give it full attention and full reign of your head.
Despite her own extensive talents, James collaborates with several artists on this album, including Eden Samara in “Running Like That”, whose ethereal tones bounce amongst the electronic clanging with a beautiful symphony. The range of voice displayed in the track is undeniably beautiful and the intelligent of the balance created is one of James’ growing talents. The music can sound unintentional at times but as you listen you grow more of an understanding of the subtly of it.
One of the more experimental and as such impressive tracks in the release is “Self Doubt”, in which James’ herself is on vocals. It starts with a rapid computer game noise beating against a backdrop of an almost lullaby-like melody. James’ voice cuts in with “I know you may not like this one, but it’s just fine” at the same time as a clashing electronic beat that bounces with a roughness and edge that only James’ could manage to balance perfectly; with not only her voice but the strings that are added slightly later in the song. Upon listening to this track, you cannot deny the raw genius of Loraine James; my ears are still puzzling to just how this balance was so seamlessly created. As she says if you don’t like it, “it’s just fine” because this music is not looking or needing mass consumption, it feel intimate, as if you are the only one listening and you want her to remain your biggest secret.
Honestly if you haven’t already, I implore you to sit yourself down and give this album a big old listen, there is just no way you will be disappointed.
“Reflection” is out now on Hyperdub and can be purchased on Bandcamp.
Tracklist: 1. Built to Last (Ft Xzavier Stone) 2. Let’s Go 3. Simple Stuff 4. Black Ting (Ft Le3 bLACK) 5. Insecure Behaviour and Fuckery (Ft Nova) 6. Self Doubt (Leaving The Club Early) 7. On The Lake Outside (Ft Baths) 8. Reflection 9. Change 10. Running Like That (Ft Eden Samara) 11. We’re Building Something New (Ft Iceboy Violet)