Lorn – Nothing Else

Nothing Else has an unfortunate problem in that it’s a good album, one that effectively mixes dubstep trappings with grime textures and does so with a good sense of pace and a above average understanding of atmosphere, with the problem being that it has been done much better many times before. This makes Nothing Else something that doesn’t really work on paper or in person. As a premier release from Steve Ellison’s (aka Flying Lotus) label Brainfeeder, a lot is expected of this album and to that extent, it’s a failure. But it tries and it does succeed on it’s own merits; it’s just that those merits are shared only by itself.

Lorn is a good DJ and has proven himself before, like on his brilliant remix of MC Jammer’s song “Better Than”, and with Nothing Else, he shows a very solid, fundamental understanding of his brand of music. The bass is heavy and precise, the electronic tones are thick and grimy, and the drumming is economic and underplayed, it’s simple clap and clatter played against the very organic sounding electronics. The atmosphere is a rather dark one, but listening to Nothing Else gives the impression that Lorn was trying to hit heavier, which he has done before. A central flaw of the album is that overall, there is no context to the songs, meaning there is no punch or hook, which leaves only a competent set of beats and songs that sound less effective than intended.

Although apart from any thoughts of intentions, Nothing Else is still a very slight album, one that is easy to make it through but difficult to remember. Very little of the tracks are particularly augmented or unique, the exceptions being “Army of Fear” which uses a brooding string accompaniment and military drumming to make a literal funeral march, and “Automaton”, which is a percussion heavy track that sounds like a typically great Warp label release. Although, apart from these, we have ten other songs that are range from average to pretty okay and fail to impress.

That’s the ultimate story of Nothing Else, a failure in some regards, but a decent album overall. If you’re on the fence, I can’t particularly recommend it over other albums of it’s ilk, such as Uproot by DJ/Rupture from a couple years back or as recently as Starkey’s Ear Drums and Black Holes, an album that does “darkstep” more effectively and consistently and does so with a better fundamental understanding of instrumental hip-hop. Although, if you are jonesing for a dose of competent grime/dubstep, you could do a lot worse than Nothing Else; unfortunately, much as the title suggests, after the initial listen is finished, there really isn’t much else.

by Trevor “Army of Fear dodger” Johnson

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