Loraine James expands her kaleidoscopic IDM on Nothing | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Loraine James expands her kaleidoscopic IDM on Nothing 

click to enlarge Loraine James

Loraine James

Megan Wallace

Loraine James makes kaleidoscopic music defined by frenetic, glitched-out beats. Despite its restless sense of perpetual movement, the London producer’s music is transparently emotive; every turbulent arrangement allows for a narrative that conveys anxiety, anger, and giddiness, even as the sound and aesthetic of a track is often icy and austere. After breaking through with the 2019 LP For You and I, James has released a string of EPs, and the latest, Nothing (Hyperdub), is her most exciting yet: a lean collection of four songs that expands the scope of her capabilities as a producer and features an eccentric cast of guest vocalists. She imparts a sense of numbness to the title track with a lurching beat that recalls the sound of feet dragging across the floor, while Uruguayan singer Lila Tirando a Violeta repeatedly, dejectedly declares, “We don’t feel nothing.” As ghastly synths wriggle in the mix and reverb-drenched coos swallow any silence, the only feeling left is helplessness. “Marg” is even more despondent; a forbidding verse by Iranian-English rapper Tardast rubs up against synth pads that creepingly swell in intensity to heighten feelings of dread. Jonnine Standish of Australian electronic indie-rock duo HTRK appears on Nothing’s glumly sensual highlight, “Don’t You See It.” If any song perfectly captures the quarantine-fueled desire for intimacy, this is it; it’s frazzled and fractured, desperate yet listless. The EP ends with an instrumental track that’s as dazzling as the others, but if Nothing confirms anything, it’s that James can make the most of any vocalist.   v

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