Loraine James @ DNIT (Barcelona) 17th of November 2023

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DNIT has been a hidden gem for avid music lovers in Barcelona for over a decade now. There’s usually a couple events, either at the beginning or the end of each year that coincide with their Madrid edition. Focusing on experimental electronics, it’s here that we can see top-notch acts with an event production fit for the occasion.

Taking place in a particular building that’s a great example of modernist architecture, there are different spaces within the venue where the events take place. Either at the main patio, where we’ve seen acts like Plaid, or Lawrence English while laying on the floor, or in their auditorium, where we saw Pye Corner Audio last spring and plan to see Alessandro Cortini in January. Their programming is quite exquisite, and if you’re in the more leftfield realms of music, this might be just up your alley. Their first edition brought Gold Panda back in 2012.

It’s in this context that we saw Loraine James presenting her new album Gentle Confrontation. The small auditorium -almost at full capacity -served as a great setting for a cinematographic sonic voyage in a fresh autumn night, and also an ideal place to enjoy the visuals from the album.

On her most recent EP there’s a feeling of warmth that floats around. Loraine James plays a lot with the juxtaposition of soothing melodies and intricate drum programming, but she does it in a different way. And when performing live, she kind of emphasises these elements. Thick and ethereal synths opened a session that felt softer during the first half, which is not to say we didn’t have drum patterns being panned around different parts of the auditorium- and our heads.

Yes, there’s nostalgia, and yes, there’s also the contrast of ambiance and glitch. But don’t get confused, this is not just repeating the same formulas that we’re used to. If anything, things get more complicated now. Cities are more dense, modernity is more complex, everything- including feelings, happens faster and feels more diffuse, layering in discontinuously with the memories. Loraine James’ harvest seems to be reflecting all of this with a sweet yearn for calmness that she hides around, making sure to leave hints for the curious souls.

The drop into the raw vibe of her rhythms and pads was accompanied by visuals of skyscrapers and brutalist apartment buildings, some resembling those appearing in her ‘2003’ videoclip. And if at any point we’d dissociate due to rhythm variations spiced up by the visuals, we could be brought back to our seats through Loraine James soul-filling trancey ambiance generated by her live keyboard. There’s a lot more to say about her live expansion of an already distinguished catalogue: texture, pace, levels of detail, sharpness in her loops, and the hi-hats. In fact, we could write an essay focusing only on the way she polishes and treats hi-hats to create mindfucks, but that’s another story.

Loraine James will have a new show in Barcelona in 2024, this time for Sònar, and we just can’t wait.

Article by A. Sixta & Paranoid

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