Jon Hopkins: Insides (Domino)

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Jon Hopkins: The Low Places
Jon Hopkins: Insides (Domino)

This quietly wonderful electronica album certainly didn't announce itself (my advance copy came with no cover, no promo information) but it has been a constant repeat play item on the stereo since I got it about three months back. It has been music while I worked, music while I drank wine, music while I did nothing in the heat.

That I have been so delighted by it in the absence of knowing anything about this guy means I eventually went searching. And he has a story to tell.

He's an English musician/producer, this is apparently his third album (those who have heard his previous two say this is a great leap ahead), he recently opened for Coldplay (which seems strange given the quiet nature of this music) but then you discover why: he was brought in to add "colours and additional production" to their Grammy-winning album Viva la Vida alongside Brian Eno -- who praised his second album and had him contribute to his (Eno's) album Another Day on Earth.

That lead to Eno making the intro to Coldplay who so loved a track of his that he was working on (Light Through The Veins, which is here) that large sections from it bookend Viva la Vida.

This instrumental album of small gestures and subtle sounds is a long way from Coldplay pop: it opens with an almost Appalacian-sounding string piece, moves through Eno-ambience and sometimes brittle techno beats (all very restrained however), has synthesisiers washing away and slow piano parts, and there is even what sounds like some scratching (but probably isn't). It is constantly evolving music which will keep your attention or allow you to drift off.

It's no surprise to learn (but only after reading about this mystery man) that some of this has been used by a contemporary dance group in the UK. Makes perfectly good sense.

In recent weeks I have posted an essay on the many virtues of quiet music, and this confirms my opinion. If you nodded about what I said there or remember the Penguin Cafe Orchestra then you have come back home with this one.

Working, relaxing, drinking wine at dusk . . . this is your new favourite soundtrack.  

A tip: just sit back and watch the clip (from a previous album) or listen to the sample track in its entirety. If you aren't more relaxed afterwards I'd be very surprised.

PS: this is on the Domino label which last year released This Summer Night, an overlooked gem of a single from the great Robert Wyatt which I have seen acknowledged nowhere but at Elsewhere. Hmmm.

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