London producer and newly announced NTS resident Loraine James has just self-released a euphoric, ambiguously-titled EP Hmm which she threatens is her “last random EP of the year.” We hope not.
I first heard Loraine James’ music last summer in a dark, sweaty, dance-filled room that now feels both literally and conceptually very far away. This year feels dark for very different reasons, and the concept of nameless bodies crashing against each other in unison has gone from being a hobby to a nightmare scenario. In this climate it would be, if not easy, perhaps expected for artists to release music that reflects that feeling of isolation. But Hmm offers us a more nuanced set of emotions: one that harnesses the promise of future shared moments and yet centres on a feeling of nostalgia; a tingling sense of something familiar, comforting and a little bittersweet.
Opening track ‘Ahh’ transports you to a simpler place: a hyper speed Super Mario-esque synth line builds into cathartic, modular chaos reminiscent of those classic 8-bit themes. It’s a stand out track on the EP and it’s no surprise that many of the reviews on Bandcamp refer to listeners being brought to (good) tears by it. The second track ‘Erm’ feels closer to James’ heavier live sets, blending melodic glitch hop and distorted sirens with club rhythms. Meanwhile title track ‘Hmm’ revisits those nostalgic game sound effects to create a high-speed Sonic adventure (100% pun intended) which anchors itself around a looped vocal sample of James playing cards with her grandparents.
It’s James’ ability to cohesively present these organic emotions both alongside and within her more experimental tracks which singles her out as one of the UK’s most exciting new IDM artists. The resonant sub-fuelled fourth track ‘Umm’ feels like a conversation between disjointed snares and toms balanced by warm, celestial synths. Finally, ‘Mmm’ is a singularly Loraine James take on the synth-soaked rave music of the 90s which remains deeply danceable even if you’re left guessing as to where the beat falls. And if you needed any extra incentive for actually buying the album, bonus track ‘Erm Mate’ sees James successfully mix a UK-drill inspired freestyle sample over dancey banger ‘Erm.’ All in all, this is emotive dance music which will fill you with a comforting sense of euphoria whether you’re listening to it in a festival field or in isolation.
‘Hmm’ is available to purchase now (for the price you choose) directly from Loraine James’ Bandcamp.
Photo credit: Jase Cooper