There has been a lot of talk recently about the twenty-something electronic producer from London named Jon Hopkins. Such talk has not entirely been focused on his music, but rather towards the company that he keeps in “The Father (of ambient music)” Brian Eno, and of course, the massive and omnipotent Coldplay.
Simply put, Jon Hopkins makes eletronic music with pretty bits. “Insides” is not as cerebral or progressive as anything you would typically find with a Warp logo on it, but Hopkins could certainly hold his own amongst their alumni in the production stakes.
Interestingly, the album doesnt open with anything remotely synthetic, but instead a rather lovely string arrangement that ushers in an album heavily laden with bombastic, glitched out grooves. From the outset it’s clear there are two very distinctive sides to Hopkins work, and he layers and pulls them apart to great effect to break things up nicely. “Insides” melodic tendencies are dominated by sparse piano noodlings and sustained chords, which Hopkins uses to lull you into a false sense of calm and security, only to drop some ugly gargantuan beat that makes you fall off your seat. The title track is by far the heaviest, with the word “brutal” coming to mind at several points in the song, but it’s all done above a consistently melodic undercurrent.
The centrepoint of the album is “Light Through The Veins”, the infamous Coldplay collab in fully realised form. Say what you will about Chris Martin and his merry band, but they do get it right alot of the time, and they definitely got it right when they chose to bookend Viva La Vida with this track. Despite the stigma that may be attached, this song is a pivotal and very special moment on “Insides” and is by far the most melodic piece on show. It’s stunningly emotive, (which is often hard to find in this genre), and you could just keep listening to this song and find something new and amazing embeded within its depths every time.
The album shifts stylistically midway through to a more somber B side, featuring an abundance of strings and ambient shading paired with more laid back grooves. There are even two lonely piano numbers (“Small memory” and “Autumn Hill”) thrown in for good measure.
There are a whole bunch of recent interviews with Brian Eno floating around the internets heralding Hopkins as “one of the last true synthesizer players”, but it’s hard to say what makes Jon Hopkins vastly different from any other electronic artist putting out music today. That’s not to say the guy doesn’t have a sound all his own – “Insides” is fresh, but it isn’t changing the game. Still, a great listen if you like your electronic music heavy with that softer edge.