Hmm is a 5-track EP from London producer Loraine James. The zany EP features five tracks titled "Ahh", "Erm", "Hmm", "Umm" and "Mmm". On one hand, the sentiments depict the collective frustration of living not only in isolation, but amid political ignorance that underpins institutions around the globe. On the other hand, the tracks could merely allude to the spontaneity of yet another one of James' rockin' glitch and experimental EP's.
The first track "Ahh" begins with high-pitched synth artefacts reminiscent of the haunted merry-go-round trope in horror films. Syncopated bass stabs are interpolated into the track, before the interacting melodies erupt into a chaotic miasma of IDM pre-hardcore. The second track "Erm" follows the same trajectory, with a strong emphasis on rhythmic snare-claps in classic James fashion. However, her unique style shines most in the EP's mainstay track "Hmm". With a trap kick drum, hi hat rolls and glitch noises as the backdrop, processed vocals hang over the track in an illusory lull. Directly following, "Umm" takes a page from the cavernous handbook with consternation inducing percussive hits and a brooding sub-bass. Finally, "Mmm" ups the tempo a tad, with a heavily distorted bass-line and sharp percussive cuts.
Despite James' comment that Hmm is "actually the last random EP of the year", our hopes are high. Evidently, she is signed to Hyperdub, a London-based label that focuses on hardcore, dub, glitch and music made for the post-world. Her technical production is exponentially more intricate and exciting each random release, and Hmm did not disappoint. I look forward to more off-kilter takes on life post-COVID.