Early dusk in November at my friend’s parents’ house outside of Philadelphia and the whiskey was half gone. We were watching the sun dropping down over the dead trees from the kitchen windows while a brown Labrador named Lightening Bolt ran circles in the half light. In the background an album was playing, synthy beats leaking from Shane’s speakers. It sounded like waves, distortion, and the only similarity between the tracks was an odd sense of sonic urgency. For the first time in a long time I found myself starting to actively listen.
This was my introduction to The Range, aka Brooklyn based producer James Hinton, who is a Brown University physics and math alum. Since first hearing Hinton’s 2013 album, dropped on British label Donky Pitch and titled Nonfiction, The Range has been a fixture in my listening. Most tracks on Nonfiction are wordless, instead the void is laden with hi-hats and snares, built onto soft piano chords that allow the chaos to feel punctual, controlled, finite. When vocal samplings do appear throughout the album they are hard hitting, vague, and nearly ominous. The narrative of Nonfiction seems insular and gravely personal. Something to consume, internalize, rinse and repeat.
The Range is slated to release another LP, titled Potential, on March 25th through Domino Records. In anticipation, Hinton recently released a featured track from the recording, titled “Florida.” The same magnetic nature of Hinton’s work that first captured my attention exists on “Florida” but the mood is shifted by the marked presence of a female vocal track. Still finding a home in muddled elements of hip hop, drum and bass, and ethereal voices of strangers, “Florida” is a track fit for listening on loop. Hinton’s music has this weird magical quality, something hard to place but omnipresent, and Potential is primed to carry on that legacy.