Music

Jon Hopkins: Insides

Jon Hopkins's wizard-like productions have gotten the thumbs up from Brian Eno, and this reviewer.


Jon Hopkins

Insides

Label: Domino
US Release Date: 2009-05-05
UK Release Date: 2009-05-04
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Jon Hopkins has frequently trafficked in what might be pejoratively called “commercial ambient”. His latest, Insides even contains moments that might be called “pop IDM”. It sounds crass, but these are not condemnations in and of itself. Hopkins has been a classically trained pianist since he was a young child and, as such, he knows his way around an affecting melody. Insides is a release that is far more beat-focused than his previous work, and much broader in scope. In the context of the man’s discography, it seems like a leftfield lightning bolt of enlightenment. Appropriately then, the ethereal harmonies and twinkling pianos that gradually fade into the gorgeously immaculate and crisp bass-dropping behemoth “Vessel” seem.

Many will be brought to the album via the album’s centerpiece “Light Through the Veins”, known better as the source melody that imagined Coldplay as Ulrich Schnauss on the former band’s “Life in Technicolor”, “Life in Technicolor II”, and Viva La Vida hidden track “The Escapist”. Perhaps the nine-minute track was not good enough to warrant three Coldplay interpolations, but its neon-pasture dash through warm new wave synth fields certainly surpasses all three of those tracks combined in emotional depth and resonance. At the polar opposite of that glee is the title song “Insides”, which features a Halloween-style wind-up horror loop gutted by gnashing, gnarling percussion that implodes at the halfway point into decimating, Richter-scale defying sub-bass. “Small Memory”, as brief as its title suggests, is equal parts Jon Brion, Squarepusher’s “Tommib”, and some of the more quiescent parts of Aphex Twin’s Drukqs, a sweet and concise moment of wonder and reflection. The album succeeds in meting out these many moods in a way that’s consistently listenable, for both those who use might use Coldplay as an entry point and the cynical veterans of a consistently dynamic electronic music scene. Insides is among 2009’s very best.

8

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image