Fred Hills lets his music do the talking for ‘Incerto’

Fred Hills

Over the last decade, Fred Hills has worked with some of the UK’s finest artists including the excellent Ellie Ford, Michael Baker, Time For T & Mara Simpson. He has done so with his skills on the drums. What is highly impressive is how he can effortlessly play a wide range of genres, but always to a high standard. Because of this, it has seen his talents in high demand. In June 2021, Fred was hired as musical director for multiple award-winning theatre shows, ‘YOU’, which he composed for and performed for several sold-out events at Brighton Fringe Festival. 

However, in 2020 things changed as Hills stepped into the spotlight to showcase his own style of music. He released his debut single, “Kite”, a beautiful instrumental track layered with various sounds. Hills supplied the drums/percussion while Alex Barron (bass, additional guitar & synth) and Hepzibah Sessa (violin/viola) added extra depth to its soundtrack. However, it was his intricate skills on his guitar that stood out the most. During that year, he continued to share more new songs with “The Trap”, “Ketu”, and “The Dream”.

While being busy performing, Hills has been working on his debut EP Incerto. He has enlisted the talents of multi-instrumentalist/producer Andrew Stuart-Buttle and double bassist Alfie Weedon to help enrich his sound. It offers “a tapestry of delicate and expressive guitars, eloquent strings and colourful rhythms. Brought to life through collaborative efforts with producers and sound designers; Alex Barron and Aneek Thapar. To create music and sounds that defy genres and cross traditional boundaries”.

Incerto begins with the track “Flight”. It is a taster of what the EP has to offer, with a shorter runtime compared to those that follow. It open’s up with Hill’s open-tuned guitar creating a gentle tone to its soundtrack. The mood changes as he adds extra layers of instruments. Its atmosphere slightly intensifies, especially with the use of the violin. His guitar is mesmerising, thanks to his technical and intricate delivery, it dances around to the vast audio palette that is on offer. It takes a step back as Stuart-Buttle’s violin takes the spotlight to create “an eerie but characterful vibe” to see out the song.

Following on comes two tracks that fit together to paint a vast and colourful picture. “Piece One” delivers another spellbinding performance by Hill with his guitar. His fingers create an emotional soundtrack that sweeps the listener away. It’s difficult not to get lost in what he has assembled, particularly as it slows down as each string gets time to breathe to expand on its mood. It does so even more as the violin comes into play. “Piece Two” offers something more uplifting from the outset. However, as it continues, it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Each of the various instruments helps to create these feelings ranging from “ambivalence, grief, joy and hope”. It all comes together to create a showstopping moment to bring things to an end. 

“Ted’s Melody” is described as a “homage to an older version of the song co-written by Hills & producer Alex Barron”. Hills swaps his guitar for his drums as he blends with Stuart-Buttle’s violin and Alfie Weedon’s upright bass. It never seems to stick to one particular tone. Instead, it moves freely to its own groove. Closing out the EP is the title track, “Incerto”. The only one to feature vocals, but only at its start. These are “phone memos sent to Fred by his close friends and family, briefly describing something they felt uncertain about at the time”. Yet again, the trio combine to take the listener on yet another captivating journey. But, like those that come before, it has its own story and emotions to share. 

‘Incerto’ is a beautiful instrumental journey by Fred Hills and Co that offers a rich array of sounds for your ears

As the EP ends, you can’t help but reflect on the quality of the music on display. Fred Hills has proven he has more to offer than his skills on the drums. The technical talent of himself, Andrew Stuart-Buttle and Alfie Weedon is a delight on the ears. Together, they take the listener on an adventure with its enchanting soundtrack. Even if instrumentals are not your usual preference, Incerto is a collection of songs worth your listening time.

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1 comment

  1. Nick Brooks

    Super-proud as fellow-guitarist Uncle: Fred is SO technically agile across various instruments and possesses talents to soar then sweep each piece into a rich tapestry of spellbinding, unique sound.