The news talks about catastrophes that sound like science fiction: apartment towers collapsing with no warning, satellites falling from space, the ocean on fire. It’s an era of extremes, where each cataclysm seems to presage an even greater one, and only the truly exceptional––the superhuman––seem cut out to survive. What the new album from L’Orange, the prolific and endlessly inventive producer from North Carolina, argues is nearly the opposite. Released on Mello Music Group, The World Is Still Chaos, But I Feel Better is a testament to the power of self knowledge and incremental progress, of the way tiny steps can give structure to life and help navigate the unknown.
For more than a decade now, L’Orange has dazzled listeners with his alchemic blends of old and new, found sounds and the deeply personal. Given how seamlessly he synthesizes his source materials, the end product can sound as if it came straight from the ether, fully formed. But on The World Is Still Chaos, he aims to demystify that work, if only for himself. “I wanted to confront my own creative process and day-to-day wellbeing managing mental illness in a healthy way for the first time,” L’Orange says. “I’m trying to consider how to draw from my life experiences when my life experiences aren’t rooted in depression. It’s about continuing to struggle with balance while transitioning to being inspired by an external world.” The World Is Still Chaos is held together, above all, by a sense of playfulness.
Over the course of his career, L’Orange has used his remarkable abilities to create a sort of delirium in his work, a noirish haze that envelops the listener and seals him or her off in a universe of the producer’s construction. With The World Is Still Chaos, But I Feel Better, he inverts this, imposing order on the world bit by bit. It’s about “feeling OK,” L’Orange says––“not perfect.” Striving for marginal, day-over-day victories––over the external world, over your past, over yourself––is the kind of actionable, measurable, deeply personal approach that can make a seemingly impossible era feel all the more approachable. It doesn’t hurt that L’Orange delivers the argument in such an irresistibly head-nodding package.