Jon Hopkins has blazed somewhat of a creative trail throughout his career. The British producer has put his stamp on many a project, from his own releases to soundtracks and works with other acclaimed names (none more so than the legendary Brian Eno). 2019’s Singularity seemed to show Hopkins at his finest, merging the techno-laden with the immersive ambience with expert precision. 2021 promised to bring further experimentation with the release of Music For Psychedelic Therapy, just over an hour of carefully crafted sounds to accompany the listener on a psychedelic trip.
There is something about the sound of rain that has a therapeutic feel to it. I have not once in my life felt the urge to stand out in a sudden downpour, but listening to rain on the window or from a shelter has an endless appeal. Hopkins obviously feels the same, with “Tayos Caves, Ecuador I” and “Tayos Caves, Ecuador II” both using rain as a key element to setting the scene and building the track. These, along with “Tayos Caves, Ecuador III”, are inspired by a trip to the eponymous ancient caves, with Hopkins aiming to provide the listener some insight into the experience of finding yourself in one of natures finest specimens. Hopkins expertly leaves a vast amount of space in these tracks, allowing the sounds of nature to grasp you and transport you to his world. Throughout the three movements of this three-part piece, warm synths and electronics allow you to close your ears and melt into the sounds.
Whilst these Ecuadorian caves-inspired tracks are undoubtedly the highlight of the album, that is not to say that the rest is disappointing. Hopkins has forged for himself, through countless high quality releases, the space to experiment with sounds and textures. “Love Flows Over Us In Prismatic Waves” is a slow, steady piece with minimal changes, yet again managing to engage the listener throughout its seven-minute length with subtle additions and changes. Similarly, “Deep In The Glowing Heart” shows Hopkins at his intensity- building best, intricately weaving synths and sounds through a slowly building nine-minutes.
The album closes on a surprising collaboration, with the feature of a speech from the late spiritual educator Ram Dass on “Sit Around The Fire”. Like The “Tayos Caves” tracks, the space left by Hopkins is more impressive than the sounds made. Simple piano and floating electronics sit underneath Dass’s musings, allowing his message to resonate further than were it buried under heavy noise. A beautiful message it is, too, asking the listener to self-reflect and find some comfort in this self-reflection. “Sit Around The Fire”, with its simplicity and positivity, is the perfect closing track to a fantastic album.
‘Everything in you that you don’t need, you can let go of/
You don’t need loneliness, for you couldn’t possibly be alone/
You don’t need greed, because you already have it all/
You don’t need doubt, because you already know.‘
Music For Psychedelic Therapy is a grower, even if you do love it on first listen. You will most likely miss lots each time you hit play, finding yourself somewhat lost and your mind drifting throughout. If you are in any way like me, you will find yourself reaching for this record at times when you want to let your mind do just that, when you want to take your brain for a mindless wander into the abyss. Jon Hopkins continues to excel in finding and creating sounds that both relax and inspire, with his latest release well worth the time it will take to fully appreciate it.