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Jon Hopkins Music For Psychedelic Therapy

Freeing himself completely from the constraints of the beat-driven dance music that formed the backbone of his previous two albums, Jon Hopkins instead takes us on an ambient journey into the forest.

Released: 12 November 2021
Music For Psychedelic Therapy

Gone are the detailed and exploratory microhouse and IDM tapestries found on Jon Hopkins’ 2013 effort Immunity and 2018’s Singularity. In their place are wholly atmospheric soundscapes, beginning with the fittingly warm and inviting opening track ‘Welcome’.

It’s on part one of ‘Tayos Caves, Ecuador’ that it becomes clear that you’re in fact listening to the same artist behind those aforementioned records. A melodic sensibility carries over from the most subdued and pensive moments of Singularity, set into extreme slow-motion here. Part two of this central meditation leaves behind the rain sounds of its predecessor and draws us closer to the melodic heart of the music as it slowly ebbs and flows, while part three elevates us to the tree canopy on the back of some higher register synth pads.

Following this triptych, the album does lose its novelty a little. The aquatic ‘Deep In The Glowing Heart’ is pleasantly enveloping, and the luscious but static ‘Ascending, Dawn Sky’ has some similarity to Stewart Copeland’s iconic ambient work on the Spyro 2 soundtrack (!), yet at this stage in the album these strong elements don’t stop it feeling a bit meandering, leaving you wanting more. Psychedelic Therapy doesn’t really push far out of the ordinary for an ambient record, though there’s a depth and resonance to Hopkins’ writing that still brings understated emotional rewards, keeping you from boredom.

The guided meditation that closes the album – a speech by legendary guru Ram Dass set to moving piano chords – is a highlight, continuing Hopkins’ penchant for ending his albums with a piece built to stir emotion. This time round there’s little evolution though, allowing you to focus on Dass’s philosophical words.

Though not as inspiring as Hopkins’ previous output, Psychedelic Therapy is an admirable departure and an accomplished album that improves with every listen, as you detach yourself from your expectations of it.