Review: Nick Hopkin & Friends – Project X

Nick Hopkin’s musical adventures have thus far centred around the electronica scene; covering pop to ambient moods. ‘Project X’ sees the artist stretch himself further still, by not only taking on new musicians but also expanding into concept-led music and veering away from the traditional song structures he has been used to. This mini album is split into four sections – helpfully titled ‘Part One’ to ‘Part Four’ – but listening to it as a whole is a confusing experience.

Project X CD Cover

‘Part One’ begins as an ambient/chill-out journey, which nods to dub on its way and then explodes unexpectedly into life for a multi-harmonic fragment in the vein of The Polyphonic Spree, urging us to “remember to smile”. As if that weren’t enough styles covered in one track, the same piece then moves towards an acoustic guitar passage, a ghostly narrative and then a chilling finale which reminded me of an UNKLE collaboration.

‘Part Two’ starts gently enough but all feelings of calm are rudely interrupted by grunged-up guitars and distorted vocals. Bizarrely, the route is taken up with more dub, whilst a blissful techno tune competes with some irritating frog and baby samples. The third part is less experimental but ultimately more addictive, as a heavenly mix of elegant strings and ambient music combine beautifully. ‘Part Four’ is better still and is characterised by a seamless synth theme which brings the album to a dreamlike end.

Eclecticism and a sense of adventure are usually a good thing but Hopkin’s meanderings on Parts One and Two lack any kind of cohesion. So much so, it was difficult to know when each part started and ended, without keeping a close eye on the track number. Nevertheless, by the final two pieces, I’d been won over again by Hopkin’s undoubted talent for melody.

Web Sites:
Nick Hopkin Official Site and Free Download of Album
Nick Hopkin MySpace

Further Listening:
They Came From The Stars (I Saw Them)

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