As one of the most innovative electronic artists to emerge in the last five years, it didn’t take long for Loraine James to make a name for herself as a master of unpredictable IDM. Over the course of just three albums and a few EPs, the London-based producer and musician has touched on everything from crunchy post-grime to forceful bass music. James’s work tends to be sophisticated, propulsive, and clubby, but on her latest, she steps away from the dancier sensibilities that defined her prior output. Released under the moniker Whatever The Weather, the self-titled LP finds her crafting pristine ambient atmospheres that shimmer like a patch of digitized chrome. It’s a crisp, gorgeous effort, asserting that James’s command over melody is as strong as her knack for sequencing inventive rhythms.
Inspired by temperature, the tracks on Whatever The Weather exist between a range of zero and 36 degrees celsius. Over the course of its 11 tracks, the record manages to be icy, verdant, and downright sweltering. “25°C” sets the scene, calling to mind balmy, perfect weather thanks to its use of silvery synthesis. This launches into the techno-leaning “0°C,” which is just as wintry as its title suggests. “6°C” is jittery and fluttering, centered on both electric and grand piano flourishes. Meanwhile, “30°C” is nearly as bassy as the music on Reflection or For You And I, featuring one of the record’s rare vocal performances. Although it can be difficult to use largely-instrumental music as a tool for evoking something as nuanced as the variance of heat, James proves herself up for the challenge–it doesn’t take much more than a quick glance at the track titles to understand exactly what kind of world she’s aiming to build with each piece.
The record embraces a number of different tones and textures, but always sounds like it takes place in the same location. Although I’m generally wary of drawing comparisons between an album’s artwork and the music within, Whatever The Weather’s universe does seem as craggy and striking as the Arctic terrain on its cover. Listening to the record in full makes me imagine sitting completely still on some remote slice of Northern shore for an entire year, taking in the seasons as they peacefully come and go. An outspoken introvert, even James’s most party-friendly tracks come across as pretty intentional and refined. However, Whatever The Weather is especially meditative and subdued. By allowing her sound to go to minimal new places, James presents one of her prettiest, most sonically dexterous outings to date.