Jon Hopkins
Insides


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matt Wolfe EMERITUS
May 21st, 2009 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Coldplay coproducer thrills and enchants with classically tinged dubtronica.

You may not have heard of the guy, but it’s more than probable you’ve heard his work. Massive Attack, Herbie Hancock, Imogen Heap, and, most recently, Coldplay and Brian Eno, are just a few of the names you’ll see connected to the classically trained 28 year old’s already colourful profile. But if the mention of ‘classically trained’ and ‘Coldplay’ has you raising your eyebrows, then maybe the words ‘serrated dub-step’ and ‘aggressive electronica’ will dampen the fears slightly. Continuing on from his two previous critically acclaimed albums, Insides is a lot darker, grittier and rougher around the edges than anything on either Contact Note or Opalescent. It sees Hopkins expanding and exploring; keeping true to his clasically fashioned electronica sound but also delving into the bottomless depths of dub-step and dissecting the more aggressive, angry side of electronica. Put simply; it has more character.

While I say this record is rough around the edges, which, emotively, it is, it is also much more focused than previous outings. The violin which melancholically opens the record on ‘The Wider Sun’ gives the impression of a slow, pretty, yet standard classical affair. And, for a while, ‘Vessel’ continues the theme, toying with the false sense of security with soft piano keys and echoing ambience before the first swathes of bass and electronica start to seep in. The real curveball is thrown in the last thirty seconds though, and it hits right between the eyes. Goodbye piano and strings; hello sparse, nail-biting dub and headfuck techno. The title track makes sure to follow through with this relentless, ragged beat-beating, twisting and tearing at any rhythm or melody with guttural, back-and-forth bass and denticulate blast beats. ‘Colour Eye’ is probably the most urgent, violent and disorientating of the 10 tracks, spitting hot, piercing glitches at the listener and cramming a claustrophobic amount of beats into one brilliantly short-of-breath track.

Insides is not just a 101 on how to abuse harmony and mess with minds, though. The trip-hop stylings of ‘Wire’ comes across as a mash-up between Leftfield and early RJD2, appropriate for blasting from any rolled-down car window. The nine minute centrepiece ‘Light Through The Veins’ is a gorgeous, slowly budding epic-lite, taking a simple melody in its embryonic form and adding to it with swirls of soothing ambience, gently insistent beats and other relaxing miscellaneous noises which come and go throughout to watch the grand yet modest blossoming of the final two minutes. After this, the aggression of the first half of the record’s dub-step is rarely returned to, but it is this juxtaposition which makes the second half all the more calming and wondrous. ‘The Lower Places’ keeps with the beats but takes them off the steroids, and just allows the piano keys and echo pads to do their thing with a bit of backing. ‘Small Memory’ loses the beats altogether, and, along with the final track ‘Autumn Hill’, is the most typically ‘classically trained’ of all. Only piano makes an appearance. They are both regrettably short because, on both occasions, they keys truly do create magically moving pieces of music.

For me, that is where the record loses points. Hopkins has done a brilliant job with his first real foray into the murky undergrowth of dub-tinged electronica, shaping it with his own classicalist composer’s mind, but there could have been a bit more on the orchestrated side of things. The pianos are regular and always impressive, the violins sorrowful and poignant, but, for this listener, they do not make enough of an impact, enough of an impression against the heavy beats, to truly move. Insides is a thrilling, addictive, at times breathtaking piece of electronica and is sure to make Hopkins into a name more renown than just ‘Coldplay’s co-producer’, but here’s hoping that with his next effort he can focus a little more on stirring the heart and a little less on shocking the head.



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


10195 Comments


Yeah LTTV rules, he supported Coldplay in Sheffield and was pretty awesome, I might check this out.

gaslightanthem
May 21st 2009


5209 Comments


*sigh* good review

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sup kane?

gaslightanthem
May 21st 2009


5209 Comments


nm just gonna get in the shower b4 i go out smoke da good stuff and then get ma party on

hbu & jon hkins?

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

me and hkins are tight. that sounds pretty sweet, might follow your lead.

furthermore, this may or may not be on my blog, i can't remember.

robin
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


4248 Comments


not so much him, but the animation that accompanied his music when he supported coldplay put me off for life. : (

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

orly? what animation was this?

robin
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


4248 Comments


the most colour-clashing, overly psychadelic modern art epelectic stuff i've ever seen. seemed to consist of the persuit of various weirdly drawn fishes which turned swiftly into houses and the like. very headache-enducing :/

nice review though dude.

BallsToTheWall
May 21st 2009


44351 Comments


Great review. Sound spretty awesome. I'll be sure to acquire this when i get off work.

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hahaha, art-heads, gotta love em. should mentioned in the review that the record sometimes delves into annoying arty bits but oh well, its rare and on the whole its awesome.

OllieS
May 21st 2009


2031 Comments


Hahaha, this is one of my Dad's best friends. He owns my old laptop ^^

NortherlyNanook
May 21st 2009


1285 Comments


this stuff is sick. i haven't listened to it at all this week, but i got a few listens a couple weeks ago and liked it a lot.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was all over the blogosphere, but i never really checked it out. That said, I've heard Light Through The Veins somewhere before but I can't quite place it.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Knott-
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


10195 Comments


That said, I've heard Light Through The Veins somewhere before but I can't quite place it.



start of life in technicolor on viva la vida

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 21st 2009


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

D'oh of course

gaslightanthem
May 22nd 2009


5209 Comments


did you follow ma lead then mtf?

also if this is on your blog i may check it out but otherwise probably not

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 22nd 2009


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that's pretty awesome ollie s, he's pretty great friends with coldplay, try and blag us a few tickets for their next tour?

and nah kane, couldn't, all my friends are poor and boring. but tonight is pub tennis for my best friends 19th, wimbledon style. guna be very interesting. but yeah, this is on my blog - http://ex-cowboys.blogspot.com/2009/03/jon-hopkins-insides.html

OllieS
May 22nd 2009


2031 Comments


that's pretty awesome ollie s, he's pretty great friends with coldplay, try and blag us a few tickets for their next tour?


Haha, my parents got free third row seats in the O2 and left during Coldplay's second song. But yeah, my Dad said Jon always consults him about this stuff...he's already heard this album over and over, haha.

gaslightanthem
May 22nd 2009


5209 Comments


aww matt sux

good to see you out tonight, me too

pub tennis gonna rule, better get yo ass down to clubs after

inbetweeners are at mayhem tonight, our local club. gonna rule

timbo8
May 25th 2009


618 Comments


this sounds great, nice review



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