Albums Of The Week

Unveiling unknown YouTubers' potential

Brooklyn-based electronic producer and musician James Hinton records under the moniker The Range.
Brooklyn-based electronic producer and musician James Hinton records under the moniker The Range.PHOTO: DOMINO

Producer James Hinton, also known as The Range, reworks vocal samples he found on the website into soaring pieces

For every Justin Bieber, there is an illimitable number of YouTube crooners who remain lost in the online jungle.

They are largely faceless, voiceless, unloved - until now. A handful of them have been cherry-picked by Brooklyn-based producer James Hinton in this intriguing project fittingly titled Potential.

For 200 hours, he scoured the far reaches of the social medium for these aspirants and reworked their vocal samples into 11 soaring tributes to the irrepressible human urge for self-actualisation.

What drives these wannabes to lay their hearts out in the open? What are their backstories? Who are they?

In an act of emotional curiosity as well as personal social responsibility, Hinton gives them the limelight and lets them shine, if only for a few minutes.

The album hits the terribly sweet spot between hope and cruel reality right from the start.



    The Range


    4/5 stars

Listen to the familiar yearning in the human voice on the track Regular: "Right now I don't have a backup plan for if I don't make it, but even if - I'll just decide to move on."

He chops the statement by YouTube rapper SdotStar up and repeats it against gently propulsive micro-beats and you glean the desperation.

The track Copper Wire acknowledges a young London rapper Kruddy Zak, whose raw freestyling hits a nerve with Hinton. The former, who did his video when he was 13, had mentioned "2009", the year Hinton's mother died.

"We value you," goes the opening line, as Hinton intersperses the MC's free-flowing confession against a dusting of mellifluous, skittering beats and escalating synths.

In Falling Out Of Phase, he stretches Vancouver singer Jordyn Lardizabal's words "slowly falling out of love with you" till they hurt, as emollient house vibes swirl around.

Elsewhere, he remixes, recontextualises and juxtaposes to exhilarating results.

He stitches New York teenager Kai Mars' charismatic version of Ariana Grande's You'll Never Know onto a wonderfully upbeat pop doozie called Florida. It's a collaboration of an ordinary girl and a mega-star made possible via human technology.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Unveiling unknown YouTubers' potential'. Print Edition | Subscribe