Jon Hopkins’ music for psychedelic therapy, you should try it

Jon hopkins

Jon hopkins
Photo: Steve gullick

This is the kind of music for which the phrase “I don’t know if it’s really for me” sounds tailor-made.made. A collection of sounds captured during field recordings in an Ecuadorian cave 200 feet below the Amazon rainforest? Buzzing synthesizers played through loudspeakers hanging in the woods of Devon, England? A back half of the album consisting of a single unbroken 35-minute track that ends with oral meditations from recently deceased American spiritual guru Ram Dass? It all sounds incredibly fey, the sort of thing you cI would say that’s pretentious shit, if the artist responsible wasn’t Jon Hopkins.

Hopkins is one of the most important electronic musicians of the modern era, someone whose previous albums (including The AV Clubthe presence in the list of the best of 2018, Singularity) blended lush, fluctuating techno with rhythmless organic beauty in increasingly complex and rewarding ways. And while it looked like the musician would follow his latest Grammy-nominated record with something even more layered and ambitious, he flip-flopped with Music for psychedelic therapy.

The album isn’t just a profound change musically – you won’t find a single percussion instrument, or even a low EDM beat, hidden among the sounds here – but also philosophically. Hopkins aspired to merge the beauty and peace he found in the natural world with the sense of artistic freedom and introspective clarity he could generate within the confines of the studio. Hence the tracks that continually shift between playing (and recording) through outdoor speakers and his isolated studio – he began to adapt his compositions to the raw sounds of nature he heard himself. come back through his headphones.

The results could be some of the most unusual and moving music that could easily fall under the title “New Age”. Despite this often derided term, Hopkins’ fusion of ambient recordings, drones and natural fields cannot be summarily dismissed. It’s just too powerful. At least, for this reviewer, it was. Rolling his eyes at Hopkins’ serious and bombastic statements accompanying the press materials (“It’s a place as much as it is a sound”), put on my headphones, pulled the blinds, and prepared to listen to the album the way Hopkins insists it be best experienced: eplayed entirely in one sitting, lying in the dark.

What if I didn’t sit down an hour later feeling more rested than I had been in weeks, maybe months. From the spare sound of a small bell that inaugurates the ascension of the opening sound wave of “Welcome,” to the aforementioned Ram Dass segments that precede the final elegiac piano notes that close the album, I indulged in the experience, even though I felt a little silly at first. But soon I felt like I had entered the kind of trance state Hopkins was striving to create in the listener.

He’s right to insist that it’s more of an experience than a record to throw in the background, although I found it rewarding when I played it afterwards during working hours, or when I just do chores around housing her. But it seems to work best as a kind of deep musical-spiritual dive – its own unique form of meditation, in a sense.

And after returning to it (and the silent, dark process of the room) several times, I began to realize that, under all the instrumentation and arrangements so different from his previous work, Hopkins actually built a similar edifice. to those previous albums. It always builds and crescendo in a manner similar to those found on Immunity Where Singularity, always seeks to provoke a kind of cathartic bliss; it’s just that he’s looking for an inner spiritual catharsis, not a physical catharsis that could also be found wrapped up among the bodies on a dance floor.

Plus, your mileage may vary, but he recommends trying it with the titular psychedelics. Hopkins has worked closely with scientists and doctors conducting psilocybin clinical trials at Imperial College, including creating playlists to help with psychedelic therapy. (The AV Club, of course, would never tolerate the use of illegal drugs, especially not the DMT Hopkins endorses and which can often be found among some people on college campuses.)

But even without psychotropic substances, Music for psychedelic therapy is a lot of change of mind in itself. I kind of feel like someone who’s spent their life turning their nose to opera, only to accidentally stumble upon the best performance of Bohemian which has never been staged. Hopkins took the new age stench out of music like this and reinvented it for a new generation of ambient music fans looking for something not only auditory, but emotionally rewarding as well.


About Shirley A. Tamayo

Check Also

INTERVIEW: Richard Dawson | NARC. | Reliably informed

Image by Kuba Ryniewicz This is an extended version of the interview that appeared in …