Album Review King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine

A dazzling marriage of two musical styles.

Who among us saw a collaboration like this coming? Scottish singer-songwriter legend Kenny Anderson hooking up with London based ambient electro wizard Jon Hopkins? It looks quite dubious on paper. The latter’s work more often than not tips into the more arresting areas of the electronic spectrum - if you’ve listened to his 2009 record ‘Insides’ you’ll know exactly what I mean. Anderson’s work, meanwhile, is usually a much gentler affair.

Put all those doubts aside, if you would. The labour of love that is ‘Diamond Mine’ deserves to be noted as one of the most exquisitely beautiful and affecting records of the year. Input-wise, it’s very much an even split between the pair: King Creosote’s contributed lyrics and vocals to Hopkins’s music, and the combination is equally heartrending and euphoric. The piano piece ‘First Watch’ gently eases the listener into the album (seven songs stitched and segued together to the point that the album could be considered one uninterrupted work in seven movements), establishing a sedate pace that suits the record perfectly.

What follows it are songs equally as beautiful as each other, but it is its most immediate moment ‘Bats In The Attic’ that stands head and shoulders above its counterparts, displaying Anderson’s soaring voice and intimate lyrical bent (‘The hours go by like sips of water […] I read your simple novel that uses all our real names’), matched with a steady beat and Hopkins’ rademark synth backdrops. Throw in a superlative vocal harmony and you have a song that can be accurately described as perfect.

This is an album that stays with the listener long after its completion, a dazzling marriage of two musical styles, each brilliantly complementing the other. There are plenty of goosebump-inducing moments on offer too. Case in point is the album closer ‘Your Young Voice’, which consists of merely a solitary plucked guitar line and Anderson’s masterful voice, repeating one line that gradually increases in emotional impact: ‘It’s your young voice that’s keeping me holding on through my dull life.’ Dull? There isn’t a dull moment on this album. It’s quite aptly named, really. In other words, it’s a real gem.

 

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