Reflection

Loraine James

Reflection

“I like the simple stuff,” murmurs Loraine James on “Simple Stuff,” a standout track on the London producer’s second album for Hyperdub. Perhaps her idea of simplicity is different from others’, because Reflection (like its predecessor For You and I) is a virtuosic display of dazzlingly complex drum programming and deeply nuanced emotional expression. James’ music sits where club styles like drum ’n’ bass and UK funky meet more idiosyncratic strains of IDM; her beats snap and lurch, wrapping grime- and drill-inspired drums in ethereal synths and glitchy bursts of white noise. Recorded in 2020, while the club world was paused, Reflection captures much of the anxiety and melancholy of that strange, stressful year. “It feels like the walls are caving in,” she whispers on the contemplative title track, an unexpected ambient oasis amid a landscape of craggy, desiccated beats. Despite the frequently overcast mood, however, guest turns on songs like “Black Ting” show a belief in the possibility of change. “The seeds we sow bear beautiful fruit,” raps Iceboy Violet on the Black Lives Matter-influenced closing track, “We’re Building Something New.” Tender and abrasive in equal measure, Reflection is that rarest of things: a work of experimental music that really does make another world feel possible.

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