Sunday, July 12, 2009

Insides - Jon Hopkins

Asked to categorize the music of Jon Hopkins, one might think that his music is electronica. This is certainly the case when considering that his compositions are mainly computer-generated. But it fails to truly capture the depth, breadth, and beauty of his music, in a genre often categorized by peppy dance tunes and techno beats.

Insides is Jon Hopkins' third album, following Contact Note (2004), a somewhat experimental album, and Opalescent (2001), which drew from more ambient origins. It is undoubtedly his most ambitious and deep record yet, as he transcends into bolder and more intimate waters.

Insides really has no genre that it sticks to, but what stands out about all of the tracks is the precision with which they are executed, drawing the listener in with flowing electronic melodies and a rumbling bass that seems crisper than one might find from other artists. The tracks seamlessly flow together, creating a fluid, complete listening experience.

Hopkins goes everywhere, in terms of feeling and genre. He begins the record with The Wider Sun, a rustic, hopeful, and layered violin lament that would go perfect with a sunrise and a crisp morning chill. On the next track, Vessel, he shifts to a much darker and mysterious, sometimes even hurried atmosphere as he pulses bass over a delicate, yet sinister piano melody. Yet later he conjures up an inspiring, driving, and energetic piece in Light Through the Veins, snippets of which can be heard in the intro to Coldplay's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, in the track Life in Technicolor.

Throughout the album, Hopkins lays down a few delicate piano tracks, showcasing his skill as a master pianist. This can especially be heard on Small Memory and Autumn Hill, which are truly beuatiful, fragile snowflakes that you can't help but admire.

Admittedly, there is dissonance in the record. Some tracks, like Insides and Colour Eye, are really... frankly, creepy. They juxtapose numerous odd sounds that make you feel as if you've been thrown into a bad aural acid trip. It's interesting, absolutely, but after a minute or so one starts to wonder when the order will be restored to the universe. And sure enough, it is, in brilliant fashion.

To quote, '"With Insides, Hopkins has created a symphony that paints in binary; a canvas where bucolic instruments caress the dreamy digital soundscape like never before... " I don't think I could've put it better - Insides is an audacious album that seems much like a work of art in itself. It creates soundscapes that suck the listener in and don't spit them out until the last piano key fades away. It is complete, and like no traditional form of music I've ever heard before.

That said, take a listen.

If you like it, maybe show some support and buy the album on iTunes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant review. I'm downloading the album as I type this... I loved Fanfarlo! I was too late to catch the dollar deal, however, I did get a bootleg copy of it and I regret not buying it instead.

I just got into this band called The Dodos, not exactly right up at your alley again, but I think you might like it.

I would've written a longer comment lauding your blog but I've just had a shitty day.

Keep writing and take care.

Oh, and I'm following you on Twitter, feel free to follow me if you feel like it (alliteration ftw!)
I'm /thekakistocracy