Its been a good year so far for new music and one of the most interesting has been The Range's major label debut for Domino Records, 'Potential'. If you're not familiar with The Range then its worth checking out his previous releases on Donky Pitch, debut album Nonfiction being essential listening. When I first heard James music it was fresh and quite different from my usual indie alternative leanings. Full of energy and interesting vocal samples, its a fine blend of beats and emotive synthesiser lines which feel almost cinematic when blended together, a mean feat for any producer working in the electronic sphere yet still holding a hip hop edge.
And Potential continues in the same vein but adds an even bigger emotional touch. Potential was a passion project which grew from an obsession with finding the right voices for his music and the emotional tone which James wanted to set, almost a concept album for the internet generation. Hundreds of hours spent trawling youtube led him to eventually find the artists and MCs who make up the vocal roster for Potential. I mean pulling artists from obscurity and making them super stars is common place these days and quite often youtube is a direct route to a record deal but these singers were sitting in obscurity, some with only a few hundred views compared to the hundred thousand views you'd expect to be even considered for a major label project. But The Range is a man who knows what he wants, even if he doesn't know how to contact the artists he's found! You can watch a short trailer about the process behind the albums creation below and the connections he made with the people behind the screen.
Potential for the most part follows on from Nonfiction but with a slightly matured sound. His recent collaborative EP with Niia (Breaking) is a nice bridge between the two and hints at a more expanded sound which is mastered on Potential with the familiar synth hooks pulling you in but its the vocal samples and singers that really give Potential its body and soul. Lead single 'Florida' with tropical drums and smooth vocals is a juggernaut of a tune that sets the pace for the album. 'Copper Wire' embodies the beauty of Potential with the vocal sample from Kruddy Zak who must be about 12 and yet his words cut deep "09 was emotional, it’s a memory, I wish that everything was still the same, talking like you can make it rain on a sunny day". And that's one of the great things about Potential, its taking the words of these unknown rappers and singers and putting them out to a wider audience, seeping into the listeners subconscious where the quality of the music and words can take hold. It might not bring any of them a Grammy but walking down Union Street singing along to Naturaliss "Give me stability and guidance, protection and deliverance, against all evil temptation, be 1000 blessings" feels pretty good!
You can listen to Potential via spotify here and check out a cool live set he did with Boiler Room here. Follow The Range on Facebook or Twitter and you can pick up the vinyl edition with bonus disc here.