Loraine James’ sound is intense, mixed up, and essential

The newest release for Hyperdub, in its untethered torrent of distorted rhythm, feels personal and liberated – and today, gets one of the more significant recent video releases, to boot.

It’s a fine line to tread, being uncensored but precise, irregular but inevitable. But Kode9’s Hyperdub imprint has a solid track record of finding inventive grooves, and lately has been on a serious roll. “Sick 9” is intelligent and intimate all at once, as Loraine James stretches her exceptional rhythmic language, from some deep center.

And I think for anyone wanting to liberate their own production voice, here’s something beautiful – even in the press statement, James says that as she navigated a “queer relationship … and the ups and downs,” that music was a vehicle for expression she couldn’t find elsewhere. She writes: “A lot of the time I’m really scared in displaying any kind of affection in public…This album is more about feeling than about using certain production skills.”

There’s something encouraging about seeing a press statement where the artist says what she does: “I’m in love and wanted to share that in some way.”

But so there’s a message to other artists: you can let that feeling out in the music, without worrying about how skilled others may see it, even when those feelings are hard to share in other ways. I mean, it’s obvious, it’s presumably why people make music – but it’s also obviously something we all can get away from.

‘Sick 9’ is a single now, emblazoned with her holding up a photo of her childhood estate flat, and it’s hard to stop repeating. (I would say something here about “this sick beat” but I don’t want to offend Taylor Swift’s lawyers):

You have to wait until the 20th for the whole release, but then today Loraine dropped her collaboration with rapper Le3 bLACK and an accompanying music video, with glitched-out, crushed beats underneath. It’s powerful stuff, an insistent cry:

The visuals are familiar UK drab and city tropes, but director Pedro Takahashi and DOP Liam Meredith find swooping, lyrical rhythm as handicam videos make you ever so slightly motion sick and small. Le3 bLACK grunts with frustration as the motion’s adagio sways around James’ pounding broken repetition.

As UK and America hang again between our dark pasts and future potential, this seems a time only music can really express.

You’ll be able to get the music on Bandcamp, natch:

https://lorainejames.bandcamp.com/

And more is on Hyperdub’s site:

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