For someone who has recently supported Coldplay on tour, co-produced a couple of their tracks and has co-written the soundtrack to the forthcoming Peter Jackson film, The Lovely Bones, you wouldn't think that Jon Hopkins would have any time or energy left to release his own solo album.
Fortunately, he did. And the composer, pianist and self-taught studio wizard provides another impressive album packed full of lose-yourself electronica mixed with beautifully haunting piano, synths and a pulsing bass. Insides, his third album offering, rollercoasters from track to track going through the gloomy, the upbeat and somewhere indescribable in-between with almost every song seamlessly interacting with the next.
Commit yourself to seeing the whole album through in one go and you'll find the hypnotic rhythms will take you deep into Jon's delicately created world. In 'Vessel' you just begin to understand the album's title as the distant-thunder sound of pulsating waves merges into the dawn-breaking piano that transports the music deep into your consciousness before it's suddenly regurgitated back up by some intense bass and awakening energetic synths.
'Autumn Hill', 'The Low Places' and 'Small Memory' are stand-out tracks due to Jon's use of piano. Clearly a master of the instrument, it is never overdone, as he creates dark, occasionally balled-esque melodies on top of basslines that wouldn't feel out of place on a dance-floor. 'Wire' has an industrial feel that continues to grow in volume until it reaches an intensive peak, before gradually and symmetrically slowing down and returning to beginning.
Messy-sounding 'Colour Eye' is the exception on the album. The track's etching, scratches and crackles seem a bit too congested and it doesn't quite connect with the rest of the album's gentleness like many other of the songs. What makes Insides great is that it allows you to open your mind and let the atmospheres he's created come in and take over. Jon's in full control here: he's had no remit or strict deadline, resulting in a carefully crafted collection of perfect escapism.
It isn't particularly ground-breaking; in fact, on the grand scale of things it's just another little slice of musical uniqueness. The fact that it comes from someone who understands music in a deeper and more personal way than most in this genre is what makes Insides stand out from the rest.