New Release: King Creosote & John Hopkins / Diamond Mine (Domino)

April 17, 2011

Adam Khan is one of our occasional writers and here he is, as the title says, with a review of the new King Creasote and John Hopkins album. He’s also made a Spotify playlist to go along with the mix so check that under the review while you can as it’s all change with Spotify soon (cutting half the music unless you are a subscriber etc…).

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This is a great record to get lost in. It’s only just come out a few weeks ago but already I’m evangelical about it. If you love half of the stuff on Test Pressing and in particular those mixes or artists celebrated here that absorb you then this is a great record for you. Previously I’ve written about great albums from the past that I treasure and wish to share with anyone who seeks the same feeling from records that I do. But as you know there’s no time line to really astonishing records, they don’t go in and out of fashion, they exist of themselves.

So what does it sound like and why does it triumph over the other avalanches of releases? It starts with field recording of a Scottish Café and slowly a muted piano seeps in subtly transforming into a vibrating echoing hum (“First Watch”). Slowly emerging through these sounds (a gentle combination of found organic and electronic sounds) is the delicate voice and guitar of King Creosote (“John Taylor’s Month Away”). I knew of him vaguely but considered him previously as one of the legion of born again folkies clutching a copy of the Band’s Big Pink and scratching a ratty beard. Yes, this is in the tradition of other dark modern/vintage records (a bit like those faux weathered tables you can buy which someone has gone at with their sister’s knit comb) but the electronic washes of Jon Hopkins add an angelic choral atmosphere (“Running On Fumes”). I’ve recently been singing with a group of 30 people and that feeling of being lost in a beautiful noise that you are making is so striking, maybe I’m particularly alive to this. “ Bubble” and John Taylor’s Month Away remind me of the scene in “O Brother Where Art Thou?” where the characters stumble in the morning into a baptism by the river, where the white clad congregation pick their way through the woods slowly adding their voices to “Down to the River To Pray” which slowly builds.

I particularly like “Bats In The Attic” because of the female voice that joins the King which is just magical. I’ve listened to this record about 15 or so times and it just runs in and out of my consciousness. The best time to listen I’ve found is late night or early in the morning as I walk through the woods near my house especially on the recent bright light mornings. Others have compared this to Talk Talk’s “Spirit of Eden” which is not wrong but I’ve always felt there was a coldness at the heart of that record, in that every piano note seems to be have recorded separately and then placed down like a exhibit with white gloves. Great care but no emotional warm. This record has much more warmth and it ebbs and flows so naturally that I don’t know where it ends and where the background sounds of real life start. Honestly, I’ve had to take my headphones off at points to check whether sounds are creeping in from the day or from the record. That’s a beautiful form of disorientation and for that reason alone I recommend this record to you. This is a great record to get lost in. Let us know if you agree.

Here’s a playlist to go along with the mix.

[Adam K]

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