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Diamond Mine CD
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Diamond Mine' is a unique and heartrending collaboration between Scottish Fence Collective boss and singer King Creosote and electronic talent and sound sculptor Jon Hopkins. Described by King Creosote as a "soundtrack to a romanticised version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village", the record weaves in field recordings of Fife life, bike wheels, spring tides, tea cups and café chatter to produce a beautiful, unique and timeless album.
First, a little background. Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson is a Fife-based singer-songwriter and patriarch figure of a loose conglomerate of folk-inspired musicians, the Fence Collective. Architect of a good three-dozen records since 1998, mostly self-released, but some appearing on bigger labels – see 2005’s KC Rules OK and 2007’s Bombshell, which saw the light on 679 Recordings – his style is so intimate, low-key, but often surprisingly affecting songs that accrue a real emotional weight.
His collaborator here on Diamond Mine is one Jon Hopkins, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Music who has worked on a couple of big projects recently: he contributed keyboard and sound effects to Coldplay’s last album, and collaborated with Brian Eno, composing material for the ambient pioneer’s 2010 album Small Craft on a Milk Sea. King Creosote has none of the stadium bombast of Coldplay, or the experimental tendencies of Eno – but all the same, this is a collaboration that makes sense. Both share a taste for a rather languid tempo, that of small-town life and the more tender, bittersweet emotions; and theirs is a pairing that’s complementary, Hopkins colouring in the spaces around Anderson’s wearied voice, guitar and woozy accordion.
It starts with a splash of such colour in the shape of First Watch, a field recording of a bustling café, spare piano slowly picking its way round the clink of cutlery and the counting out of change. This segues into John Taylor’s Month Away, which ponders the sorry lot of a sailor, "With shattered boyhood dreams / And not much sleep," and it’s rendered beautifully, strummed guitar and droning accordion slowly subsumed beneath watery ambience.
Aging, and its effects, is a common theme here: Bats in the Attic sees Anderson contemplating his greying temples over sparse drum pads and piano, while Running on Fumes finds him asking "So why do we bother with all this fighting / Especially at our age?" as Hopkins’ choral synths call a troubled note. You sense, though, that Anderson is the sort to sing a sad song to make himself feel better, and it all concludes with the serene Your Young Voice, which fits a familiar King Creosote mould: a paean to his daughter, sung tenderly and gently, to fade.
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Top Customer Reviews
Musically the album achieves a seamless link between Anderson's unashamedly lo fi instrumentation (he is a master accordion player and competent acoustic guitarist) and the atmospheres and soundscapes created by Hopkins. We start with a beautifully realised soundscape combining snippets of conversation with a building electronic atmosphere that segues wonderfully into the gorgeous "John Taylor's Month Away". Put on the headphones and listen to seagulls, waves rolling against a rocky shore all of them taking on musical qualities against Anderson's beautifully recorded strumming.
By some distance the finest quality of this tremendous album however is Anderson's vocal performance. Rarely have I found male vocals as beautiful and affecting as Anderson's and on this album you will find many of his finest recorded moments. On the hearbreakingly lovely "Bats in the Attic" Anderson's vocals set against understated piano chords, some subtle drums and reverb which perfectly holds everything together the vocals soar and intertwine with beautiful harmonies in a way that few could master. An album then of beautiful components, bound together by wonderful songwriting and arrangements that still manages to surpass the sum of its parts. A rare occurrence indeed and one to be treasured. Highly recommended.
The vinyl & packaging.
It sounds very nice with surprisingly deep bass in places. Mine may be a little off centre on side 2. One thing that seems odd is that the record seemed to click a bit more on second play (dust?) and a lot after a clean which could be that I didn't clean properly or that there was some residue in the groove. There may be a brief part here and there that sounds a bit off - cutting or pressing or tracking I don't know, but they are very brief.
Custom labels on the record look nice, and the record is in a poly inner sleeve, which is a nice touch for care as the record is slid in and out of the inner. The is also a lyric sheet included - I've yet to figure out exactly what Your Own Spell is about - feel free to comment and let me know. Sleeve is standard rather than gatefold.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lovely mix of ambient and folk, leavened with deeply moving lyrics. It's only when the song end that I realise how deeply immersed I've got into each song. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Themanwhy
This is a 20011 CD which has only seven songs on it. Those hoping for King Creosotes "From Scotland with Love" style will be dissapointed. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert
This is a marriage made in heaven for an album I can't turn off, when Scotland meets England, beautiful.Published 14 months ago by Matt Cullen