Produced by Jon Hopkins
Innovative 28-year-old composer Jon Hopkins seamlessly blends disparate styles culled from various chapters in his early and ongoing musical career. The West London-based pianist and self-taught studio musician has already worked with a number of other artists, ranging from Herbie Hancock to Coldplay (who he toured with in 2008). Now, five years after the release of his last album, Hopkins returns his focus to his own idiosyncratic explorations with Insides.
On this probing third offering, Hopkins lets unsettling rumbles of bass, thoughtful piano and quirky rhythmic loops bleed into one another from track to track. Opener “The Wider Sun” features layers of violin wafting atop a hovering ambient synth. Pregnant with anticipation, this violin falls away, leaving serene chords to float onto the next track. On “Vessel,” a piano and small noises – scratching and spilling sounds, wind whipping across a windowpane – tickle a distilled background that gives way to unexpectedly grimy bass and drums. Continuing to work with an element of surprise, in namesake track “Insides,” Hopkins passes through a whirring ambient space of plinky, horror movie synths, lonely wind chimes and snippets of female whispers against a bass so low it almost breaks apart. A stark contrast to the emphatically slowed-down beats and classical foundation of the previous songs, “Wire” bounds energetically forward on a driving pulse and then simmers out with a small pop that jumpstarts the breakbeat of the otherwise free-floating “Colour Eye.” The album’s single, “Light Through the Veins,” is a nine-minute masterpiece of simple melody and pretty, oscillating synths. The composition gathers momentum as Hopkins builds layer upon layer, blooming into a rich space that transforms into something more serene by the conclusion. Harkening his childhood music school roots, Hopkins wraps up the album with a tastefully understated piano in “Autumn Hill.” (Domino)