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CD (TAO006)

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Jon Hopkins - Opalescent

Jon Hopkins

Just Music, 2008

This extraordinary debut uniquely combines the light with the dark, the beautiful with the mysterious, in a glorious atmosphere where the worlds of trip hop beats and chill out are made Jon's own personal domain. Sometimes eerie, sometimes majestic, but always profoundly musical.

'An ambient-classic, on a par with Eno's 'Music For Airports' work and Global Communication's '76:14'' GIGWISE


Think Cafe Del Mar, think sunset, think sunrise, think blissed out on a sun bathed terrace, think sand between the toes, waves crashing on the shore and a cocktail no more than a few centimetres from your finger tips and you have found the essence of 'Opalescent'. Sublime and chilled and never shaken
QX Magazine

debut album that fits neatly alongside heavyweight peers like Jose Padilla and Global Communication. The opening track Elegiac is so atmospheric in it's beauty that you could close your eyes and almost feel the waves of the sea as the sun sets before you" (4 stars)
Q4 Music

Opalescent is a beautifully realised debut?using synth oozes, phased and echoed guitars and pianos and chilled beats, his wonderful tunes drift from calm to eerie power like a restless sea. It will delight any lovers of beautiful music (Three stars)
The Guardian

The tracks are all blissfully ambient, with tranquil melodies and lazy beats. There's the occasional flamenco guitar lick just in case we hadn't picked up on the Balearic vibe, but somehow Hopkins makes it sound classic, not clich?d (Four stars)
The Independent on Sunday

Piano, guitar strings and slow beats blend like the clouds at sunset (or an opiate smoothy) filtering in and out like elegantly wasted beauty. Darker drums add a further depth" (Four stars)
DJ Magazine

Opalescent has a lush velvetness that is not a million miles from Zero 7, a smoothness of delivery that is pure Groove Armada, topped with the confidence to venture into more challenging and darker moods. The twelve instrumentals work beautifully as late night music, but pay close attention and you will find a veritable smorgasboard of subtle compelling rhythmic variations, touches of virtuoso piano and guitar tucked away in the mix, melodic threads that slowly wrap themselves around your head and trip-hop beats that arrive with the sudden inevitability of a Roald Dahl twist.
More than anything, Opalescent sounds like the album William Orbit might have made if, instead of chasing Madonna's moolah, he had followed his strange Cargo Series through to a natural, magical conclusion. An enormously promising debut
The Big Chill

His stunning debut album Opalescent glitters where other chill-out albums are cloudy and whereas too many chill-out records degenerate into a mush of stonerisms, Hopkins constantly clarifies the mood with subtle tempo changes and lush, beautifully judged acoustic guitar
Evening Standard

This is a quite remarkably beautiful album as it's full of genuinely different and refreshing tracks?.There are tracks on here that will make the hairs on your back stand up as its quite haunting in parts like 'Elegiac' which opens the album and the stunning 'Inner Peace' deserve that chance to stand up and be recognised, as does Jon himself, because my instinct tells me that this isn't the last we've heard from a genius in the making. (Four stars)
Planet Mixology

A most unusual and compelling album. This young man of 21 is a most accomplished musician and he pushes back the boundaries of music with this unique view of his philosophies of life. No words are necessary, the musical arrangements speak for themselves. It's a fusion of guitar, strings, trip hop beats and insight. Each one of the individual titles reflects a mood or outlook with the titles including 'Inner Peace', 'Fading Glow' and 'Afterlife'... the outstanding moment of this album is 'Halcyon' ? (8.5/10)

Slow steady and uplifting. The coffee table album of the summer
Get Rhythm

Mysterious and majestic, his atmospheric instrumentals stand up to comparisons with Moby and Bristol collective Massive Attack
Red Magazine

Royal College of Music's attendee Jon Hopkins' debut is a lovely experience...the album is so well put together that it's one seamless blissed-out voyage from beginning to end. Dance music in general seems to be getting a lot more musical, thanks largely to the fact that many of our newest producers are classically trained, and Jon is a fine example of that.

Child prodigy Hopkins was studying piano and composition at the Royal College of Music when he was 12, and there is a depth to Opalescent that elevates it above the Cafe Del Mainstream. The 12 instrumentals slot comfortably together to form an engrossing musical sweep. Soft pads play gentle staccato chord, bright guitars strum hip-swaying rhythms and occasional steps into darker moods provide dramatic interludes. Just lovely (Four stars)
Big Issue

Now if you're into chill out albums, this has to be the album to buy, it's one man doing what he does best - making fabulous ambient soul-cleansing music
BBC Birmingham Online

'Opalescent' is a re-release of a priceless gem that could well have been eclipsed by other more vocal talents on first issue, but let's make no bones, 'Opalescent' is quietly-assured. Jon Hopkins has been busy down the years with a good deal of production work with 4AD artists, Mozez of Zero 7, the revered Mr Eno, the list goes on. Unashamedly ambient in style and content, electonica is mind-fully and artfully employed as washes and swathes of synthesised music spliced/dubbed/looped, alongside acoustic guitar-pluckings.

Whilst some tracks could crop up on the ubiquitous Cafe del Mar 57 varieties, it is an album filled with spacious-wonder. An aeronautical exploration of the biosphere if you will. Perhaps. It does take the listener places and could be said to affect most listeners in the same positive and worthwhile manner. Hey, we're all so prickly nowadays. And the population isn't about to shrink.
When you're skiing down a mountain you don't necessarily look at the tips of your ski's. A number of tracks stand on the shoulders of others, but in erstwhile ambient-feel the album is somewhat seamless and generates feelings of calm, and serenity - the rough edges of the day/week/year 1-9 numerology-cycle falling away. 'Elegiac' and 'Halcyon' possess good-structure and melody with wave-like rhythms - circular and cyclical, like the pre-ordained descent of a leaf falling from a tree. Some tracks could have been written for nature programmes, others to provide a sonic-document for life in-utero. 'Lost In Thought' features down-tempo beats and acoustic guitar, dubbed-washes, a track for sharing with someone you value. 'Fading Glow' features the lucid work of Leo Abrahams and his guitar, that show he's no three-note twanger, but expressive and adept. 'Inner Peace' sounds New-Age in title, and gives context to the nature of this recording.
There are those who would 'doff no cap' to ambient-music and it's cohorts - they ride with Satan in tandem and sleep in hedgerows, drink out of date beer. Jon Hopkins has an ambient-classic here, on a par with Eno's 'Music For Airports' work and Global Communication's '76:14'. It's a body of work that hasn't dated because it keys into our consciousness in a necessary and instant manner, and isn't dependent on the zeitgeist of electronica The mind shifts from task-ridden left-brain temporal activity, to spacious right-brain pattern-building appreciation of sound, and this breath YOU are breathing right now.

Debut albums don't get much better than this. Jon Hopkins is a young (in his early twenties) classically trained musician who has created a superb, well crafted, ambient chill out album. Opalescent isn't likely to make as big as an impact as, say, Tubular Bells debut by another young musician thirty or so years ago, but it deserves just as much attention - at least, by audiences for the ambient genre. Imagine the melodic nature of music put out by the Real Music label -- their less new-agey material -- coupled with the feel of 1970s Pink Floyd and you'll get an inkling of what Jon's album has to offer.

Whether one listens to this music attentively, or as background, it has a lot to offer. Traditional instruments such as acoustic guitar and piano are used very effectively and coupled with drums, percussion, and synths etc. There are twelve discrete -- opposed to segueing -- tracks ranging from around two to seven minutes in length. Though some tracks are better than others the music is of a consistently high quality, and the mood varies between light and dark without going to either extreme.

A highlight for me is the opening track "Elegiac" where an enchanting melody is played on acoustic guitar as electronic effects and drums/percussion round the piece off nicely. This track reminded me a little of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The next track, "Private Universe", is another of my favourites; this one builds up progressively around a pleasing melody, drums and synth pads move the piece along to a climax before fading down to an end. There are so many good tracks, they were just two I wanted to specifically mention.

Opalescent is one of those albums where the listener "sees" more in the music each time they listen to it. I recommend it without hesitation, you don't have to be a fan of chill out music to appreciate this album which doesn't have a dull moment.

Over the past few years, Jon Hopkins has been making a name for himself on the ambient scene. He?s collaborated with Brian ENO, produced for Zero 7 vocalist Mozes, DJed and played live at The Big Chill Bar, and last year?s album "Contact Note" was received to great critical acclaim. On top of these successes, his record company have re-released his first album Opalescent (originally recorded back in 1999) and have issued a download EP.

I?ve been living underneath a big stone for a few years it would seem, as this is the first I?ve heard his work.

While it might be cold, grey and miserable outside, putting on the first track from Opalescent (and the central heating!) makes you forget all that. Elegiac's lush synths, laid back beats and acoustic guitar conjure up images of hot summers on sandy beaches with no responsibility. The album continues in a very relaxed manner.

It would be easy to mistake "Private Universe" for a William Orbit production. "Halcyon" adds piano motifs into the mix, which is pretty much the template for the rest of the album too. The mood changes towards the end, becoming bit less optimistic, but the general tone? Near horizontal.

In my opinion, the best tracks are the ones where he picks up his guitar and gives listeners something to latch on to. The danger with all ambient is that it can become a bland unforgettable background, but here the touches of lilting guitar lift the tracks they appear on.