Disc: Near Mint
This killer mix of instrumental and vocal tracks sees Hint exploring the eclectic styles of music that have excited and inspired him over the years – from hip hop to electronica, fiery soul to straight up dancefloor bombs – whilst pushing boundaries for a new, unique sound. Stunning guest vocals are provided by long-time collaborator Laura Vane; the prodigious teenaged MC Rizzle; and Tru Thoughts and Zebra Traffic label-mates Kinny and Rup. Hint has been rocking dancefloors and releasing music of a stunning quality for the best part of the 21st century (notably, Hint was invited to record a Peel Session at Maida Vale in 2002) and this new long player is set to bring his unique and accomplished skills as a producer and composer into the limelight once and for all. He released his debut album, the cheeky and chilled ‘Portakabin Fever’ on Ninja Tune in 2003 and has since released a handful of EPs on Tru Thoughts, which have attracted excellent reviews and acclaim from the likes of Laurent Garnier and DJ Andy Smith (Portishead) and many other DJs and tastemakers worldwide. The ‘Driven From Distraction’ album provides a first and long-anticipated CD release for some of the biggest and most sought-after cuts off those 12”s – such as “I, Silverfish” (with Rup’s masterful stream-of-consciousness MC’ing), “The Tremmuh” and “At The Dance” – along with a host of amazing new tracks. The opening song, “Keep Your Shirt On” featuring Laura Vane’s soulful vocals, sets the mood for the album – it is pretty stripped down and electronic, but energetic at the same time. On the deeply melodic “Afro Love Forest”, conjuring up images of an exotic leafy glade, Tru Thoughts label-mate Kinny gives a stellar performance, exercising the reaches of her stunning vocal range with soaring melodies and a darker undercurrent. “At The Dance” has become something of an anthem since it came out on the EP of the same name late last year. The rush that it captures, at the moment when the massive bassline kicks in and the energy level goes through the roof, has made it a powerful DJ weapon. Bringing a lighter tone to the album, “Got A Pulse”, with its infectious guitar riff develops and progresses into one of Hint’s most catchy compositions. All the vocal tracks are intentionally quite ‘poppy’, with short intros, tight arrangements and attention-grabbing sounds, such as the other Laura Vane-voiced gem, “One Woman Army”, a fiery soul/boogie style track with catchy vocals and melody and Hint’s trademark quirky beats and riffs. “Snake Patrol”, an instrumental featuring Gavin Stenhouse on guitar, continues the ‘boogie’ theme, and the 80s-style synth lines layered over the guitar parts Illuminate Hint’s fondness for exploring interesting and seemingly strange combinations. A lush, full track that harks back to some of Hint’s earlier material, “Mutes And Drops” has a chilled, blissful organic sound. In a change of direction, newie “Muddled Morning” features the talents of Rizzle – in Hint’s words, an “insanely ambitious” 16-year-old MC who picked up on Hint’s music through the wondrous medium of MySpace and proceeded to hassle him for a couple of beats. With an aim to keep on representing his own experiences and day-to-day life through his music (whilst he says most of his contemporaries in the MC field are starting to rhyme about stabbing people on the bus and the like) Rizzle is a fun and refreshing presence, laying a hip hop/grime rhyme onto one of Hint’s chunkiest beats yet. “Scrawny’s Beat”, another new track, is a dancefloor bomb that evokes that feeling of being totally overwhelmed by the sound and the pressure coming out of the speakers. “The Tremmuh”, probably Hint’s biggest hit to date, wraps up this album in style and will leave you in no doubt that Hint is on top of his game.