Review: Loraine James – For You and I


Loraine James debut album on Hyperdub For You & I provides a refreshing insight into a talented artist on the rise, with a rich perception for rhythm and a sonically open mind. Speaking in the album notes, the DIY experimentalist states 'the album is more about feeling than using certain production skills', and this certainly comes across throughout, with a sporadic dipping into multiple spectres of UK dance and experimentalism.

When viewing the album as more of an emotional release than a highly polished work, the raw experimentation on each track is felt more poignantly, allowing the listener to be absorbed in James' documentation of her own gritty London; including her experiences of the complexities of being in a queer relationship in the city. Each track on the album is a soundscape of its own, fit for both deeply personal ambient moments and dance-centred spaces. For You & I gives us an insight into the UK electronica that is so personal to James and her music. Presenting us with a myriad of club-influenced genres, James crafts beyond the imperfections on this LP, to an entirely new plane of free-handed rhythms and melodies.

The title track is glitchy and bright, occupying multiple spaces on a plane of experimentalism. Elevated and beautiful synth-based sounds give way to the more gritty jungle & grime tracks, creating an effect of non-linear originality and purpose. Album opener 'Glitch Blitch' blends a melancholic ambience with a pitched vocal 'bitch, level up, bitch', an oddly beautiful combination to start. 'My Future' and 'London Ting/ Dark as Fuck' with up and coming South London MC Le3 bLACK. These tracks meld the intensity of grime with clinical dance that goes beyond James' previous flickering tracks on her 2018 LP Detail to reveal a propensity for unwavering layers. High velocity breakbeats on 'So Scared' and 'Vowel Consonant' are reminiscent of Squarepusher's Go Plastic Album, soft, high-pitched voices are warped to whispering tones, revealing a more tonally defined direction to the album.

Much like all experimentalist works, the level of contrast is valued above all. 'Hand Drops' calls to mind Laurel Halo's Quarantine, relying heavily on bass and glitchy percussion whilst tapering off with airy, light melodies that lift the mood. Similarly, on 'Sensual', we see another side to James' fluidity with sound; melancholic keys pirouette around industrial breaks and a raw vocal effect from artist Theo, to create a conversation with the boundaries of intimacy. James shapes her vision as an artist who is not afraid to use her experimentation to her advantage, encouraging excitement in a listener who might be well versed with the genres James plays with, yet is enlightened when these elements are thrown together; free-handed ambience dances with an industrial grit that becomes intoxicating. 'Sick 9' is techno merged with a now-familiar inclination for looped snappy vocals, whilst 'Words Ears Mouth' finalises For You & I much as it started: a melodic electronica snapshot with breakbeat edge throughout.

For You & I appears almost like a collage; its raw subjects combined with a light hearted propensity for fun-fuelled dance tracks making its effect truly beguiling.