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Jon Hopkins|Insides

Insides

Jon Hopkins

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Jon Hopkins got a pretty big résumé boost in 2008 through his production work (alongside Brian Eno and others) on Coldplay's Viva la Vida. Prior to this he had worked with Massive Attack and released two albums on small labels. His debut for Domino, 2009's Insides, is his first record that many people will hear and it's a promising, but flawed, debut. It shows that Hopkins has a firm grasp on many styles of electronic music but doesn't prove to be a master of any. He dips into ominously distorted gangsta glitch on the title track, lush big beat on "Wire," burbling orchestral dubstep on "Vessel," and icy cold IDM on "Colour Eye," and while each excursion sounds good, there is nothing much happening that a fan of electronic music in its many forms hasn't heard done better before. If there is an overriding aesthetic to Insides, it's the kind of ambient techno that labels like Instinct and artists like Pete Namlook and Irresistible Force were making in the early '90s. He creates acoustic instruments with synthesizers and programmed beats to create very pleasant, very well-crafted pieces that don't really challenge the listener but instead create a kind of warm, fuzzy blanket of sound for them to settle into. The problem many artists face who attempt this is that the end result comes awfully close to sounding like generic new agey music that drifts in one ear and out the other. While there are some tracks, like the overly subdued "The Low Places" and the beat-free songs that bookend the album ("The Wider Sun" and "Autumn Hill") that fall prey to this, mostly Hopkins' ear for a good melody and his willingness to occasionally dirty up the beats keep the album off of life support. The best song here, the sunny and bright, epic-length electro-ballad "Light Through the Veins," even points to a possible future where Hopkins develops a voice of his own and makes a record that breaks free of the genre exercises and half-formed ideas that may keep Insides from being a success.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo

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Insides

Jon Hopkins

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1
The Wider Sun
00:02:34

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

2
Vessel
00:04:41

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

3
Insides
00:04:38

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

4
Wire
00:04:41

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

5
Colour Eye
00:05:11

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

6
Light Through the Veins
00:09:18

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

7
The Low Places
00:06:34

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

8
Small Memory
00:01:40

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

9
A Drifting Up
00:06:27

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

10
Autumn Hill
00:02:40

Jon Hopkins, Composer, MainArtist

2009 Just Music 2009 Just Music

Album Description

Jon Hopkins got a pretty big résumé boost in 2008 through his production work (alongside Brian Eno and others) on Coldplay's Viva la Vida. Prior to this he had worked with Massive Attack and released two albums on small labels. His debut for Domino, 2009's Insides, is his first record that many people will hear and it's a promising, but flawed, debut. It shows that Hopkins has a firm grasp on many styles of electronic music but doesn't prove to be a master of any. He dips into ominously distorted gangsta glitch on the title track, lush big beat on "Wire," burbling orchestral dubstep on "Vessel," and icy cold IDM on "Colour Eye," and while each excursion sounds good, there is nothing much happening that a fan of electronic music in its many forms hasn't heard done better before. If there is an overriding aesthetic to Insides, it's the kind of ambient techno that labels like Instinct and artists like Pete Namlook and Irresistible Force were making in the early '90s. He creates acoustic instruments with synthesizers and programmed beats to create very pleasant, very well-crafted pieces that don't really challenge the listener but instead create a kind of warm, fuzzy blanket of sound for them to settle into. The problem many artists face who attempt this is that the end result comes awfully close to sounding like generic new agey music that drifts in one ear and out the other. While there are some tracks, like the overly subdued "The Low Places" and the beat-free songs that bookend the album ("The Wider Sun" and "Autumn Hill") that fall prey to this, mostly Hopkins' ear for a good melody and his willingness to occasionally dirty up the beats keep the album off of life support. The best song here, the sunny and bright, epic-length electro-ballad "Light Through the Veins," even points to a possible future where Hopkins develops a voice of his own and makes a record that breaks free of the genre exercises and half-formed ideas that may keep Insides from being a success.
© Tim Sendra /TiVo

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