on 25 May 2009
Contact Note and Opalescent are excellent albums, but I must confess I only gave them four stars as I felt they didn't really stretch the genre too far. Sure there are moments of divine beauty ,"otherness", drift, "shoegaze"( a term I find hard to like )...but still at times things were a little too safe, the triphop tv-ad like beat a little over-used.
With Insides Jon Hopkins cuts lose- everything from hard beat electronica to folk, from pulsing ambient dark trance to traditional Japanese instrumentation is used to explore new ground with enough interest to captivate most fans of the previous two albums...Think Ulrich Schnauss meets the better "soft" tracks by Plaid (Sincetta, Zamami without going too far/experimental/nuts like plaid can), but with Jon Hopkins' effortless, smooth arrangement. It like the album I hoped Plaid had made..beautiful but without the random noodling...Low Places is utter genius...this is music that moves, takes you, haunts you...
I love it, but the wife finds some bits a little edgy/ too electronic as Jon experiments with breakbeat/jazz percussion patterns, some with hardcore analogue synth sounds, so be warned spa owners and new agers...its not all smooth going. If you like an "edge" to chilled music then its here...every so often deft touches of piano smooth the buzz.
For anyone with an open mind and an appreciation of really beautiful music I highly recommend this album...something for a seriously good pair of headphones and no interruptions...Schnauss, Plaid, Port-Royal,Cocteaus/Guthrie/Rumskib types,Lunz, ambient, chilled electronica fans please enjoy...
ps For anyone disappointed in Jon Hopkins' new exploratory direction there is an ep of three tracks more akin to his pevious material, one track of which "fairytale" is utterly beautiful and highly recommended..
on 13 March 2010
Take out the mini-headphones and listen to this on proper speakers that move some air. This is a fabulous sounding recording - lots of low end and fascinating detail.
Though some of the tracks lapse into over-reliance on macho drums to drive the tracks most sustain themselves with beautiful colours and transitions and, most important of all, some compelling musical ideas. "The Low Places" in particular is haunting and uplifting in equal measure. The soft piano timbre and ambient detail - the creaking piano stall, traffic outside the window, the car horn that turns into a strand of harmonic detail (all of which may be real or contrived) - superb imaginative work that feels very contemporary.
No vocals, some well recorded solo strings and a spectrum of electronic and found sounds to tantalise the most jaded palette. It works as a complete album listening experience and bears repeated listening.
on 20 August 2009
I loved the previous 2 albums, but this one troubled me. It had the same sublmie melodic music as in the previous 2 but he has added what to me is an intrusive glitchy sound, way too foreground and which I find just irritating. I have deleted tracks 3 and 5 which are the worse offenders, and the rest of the album is lovely. After track 6 the glitches and squeaks, and horrible breakbeat rhythm which I also do not like, fade into the background. Of course he is the artist, and free to do what he wants, but I do hope this is not a new direction. I am the listener and free not to purchase what I don't like. I don't like Aphix Twin, so if you do, maybe it is your thing. I like Jon Hopkins and the beautiful music he makes. So a curates egg. If he were to make a non glitchy version of this cd I would buy that. To me the glitches just got in the way. I just wanted to reach in and pluck them out so I could listen to the music without being slightly irritated.
on 23 October 2010
previous albums fantastic but I'm not so sure about this..It grates and is jarring on several tracks trying to change style to do something unnecessarily, I think. Of course, Light through the veins is going to be a classic; it made me cry the first time I heard it. Will wait for next album and see where he has gone. Buy it though...
Words can barely convey the extraordinary power and beauty of this album.
Consider this brief review as a signpost. A map at most.
The heart of the territory beats in Mr Hopkins' latest release 'Insides'.
The title is apt. Interiority is all in this single-minded project.
The music shows evidence of kinship with close cousins exploring
not dissimilar sound-worlds but this need not concern us here.
The composer's voice is sufficiently distinctive
that we are forced to sit up and listen.
The door opens on one of the most profoundly moving
little pieces that I have ever encountered in any genre.
'The Wider Sun' deserves a place in every home and heart.
A melody to make the world just a tiny bit more bearable.
All that follows is never less than tantalizing.
The plodding march of the title track is spun through
with shimmering threads of mercurial brilliance.
Fierce elemental stuff.
The complex rhythmic patterns in 'Colour Eye' contrast
magically with the ambient keyboard arabesques;
the raging second subject eventually evaporating
into the sound of falling rain.
'Light Through The Veins' builds steadily on a simple
repetitive opening motif. Layer upon layer the crescendo
evolves into an overwhelming wave of sound.
We are swept along with it. Resistance is futile !
The diminuendo is equally beautifully managed
until the piece fades away into blissful nothingness.
'A Drifting Up' is yet another remarkable piece.
From the simplest elements Mr Hopkins constructs
music which has the power to reach deep down
inside your guts and insist that you FEEL SOMETHING.
The concluding piano composition is an indescribable jewel.
Keep your ears and your heart open and I challenge you not
to be stirred, confronted and moved by this wonderful album.