Jon Hopkins, Insides (Domino)

This album is so good that we've already decided it will most definitely make it into our top 9 of 2009. It's a masterpiece.

Resolving the differences between competing impulses
Classically schooled in both concert piano and UK rave, Jon Hopkins finds crossing points for the incongruent sources he looks to for inspiration. His resume includes work with Brian Eno and Coldplay, but for his third solo LP, Hopkins turned his attention to things far from the mainstream and created a complex sequence that starts with a rustic string chorus, moves through a mire of brutal dubstep and overwhelming bass and concludes in placid drifts of tiered melodies. Scatterings of found sound invade the margins where one song links to the next and Hopkins makes Insides play out as a single, intricately mapped thought. Everything makes more sense listened to in sequence, but that''s not to say there aren''t standout moments. The title track is rewind-worthy dubstep devastation, while “Colour Eye” is no less destructive while playing up the genre''s techno connections and signaling the end to the disc''s heavy-handed first movement. The disc''s 9-minute centerpiece “Light Through the Veins” patiently lets its shimmery melody build and fade along a natural path to signal the arrival of a rewarding new tone that sounds especially bright after the rugged start to the set. Hopkins does wonders matching formal training with underground experience. [4.5 out of 5 stars]