This beatmaker out of Providence, Rhode Island, combines sparkling, high-definition sounds with hypnotic vocal samples sourced from the darkest corners of YouTube to make music that hits hard in headphones or the club.
James Hinton, the Providence-based producer known as the Range, is a fan of pitcher Greg Maddux, who—despite being built like an accountant—was one of the finest ballplayers of his generation. "I liked how he was this normal guy that didn't have much velocity, but with small changes in his grip, he could totally change the ball's trajectory," says Hinton. He's explaining a track called "Greg Maddux Change Up" from April's cassette-only Seneca EP for Brighton, England, label Donky Pitch. "It was a nice homage to [Maddux]—that track has a lot of little micro changes that are sort of imperceptible."
The 25-year-old should know something about how small changes can yield surprising motion. His just-released debut album for Donky Pitch, Nonfiction, grips well-worn source material—grime and hip-hop vocals, twinkling pianos, hurried breakbeats—in odd and fascinating ways. Lush and downtempo, his music nevertheless accelerates in and out of melodic ideas. Odd vocal cadences—such as on the beguiling "Metal Swing"—fall into step with gimpy breakbeats and lilting piano figures. The lines between the club, the gym, and doing the dishes are pleasantly blurred.
Hinton won't say much about his sample sources, which he often rips from YouTube. Obfuscation, however, is not the point. Nonfiction is sober, uncluttered music; the producer leaves most of his vocal samples untreated, his pianos clean and robust. Nothing is twisted or misshapen, and there is no reframed nostalgia lurking. Hinton's appetite for sound matches that of his peers at Donky Pitch, which has been pushing an infectious blend of bright, buzzy electronic music that has emerged from dubstep's ashes—a sound recently collected on the free compilation We Didn't Think We'd Make It This Far Vol. 1. Their future-is-now boldness has developed in parallel with artists like Rustie and TNGHT, drawing from UK club music, pop, and American hip-hop in equal measure.
When I talk to Hinton in late September, he's about to leave for a short European tour, during which he says he'll mix Baltimore club music and drum & bass into his own compositions. It will be his first visit to the home of so many of his inspirations, as well as his first time meeting the label that has been instrumental in his young career.