By MATTHEW PARRISH
The first half of this CD is the best album of the year, as far as I'm concerned. It's blippy dance music (sorry, I don't have the vocabulary for intelligent dance music) that is compositionally interesting and groovy at the same time.
For proof, just look up "Open Eye Signal" on YouTube and enjoy the 8 minute, epic, minimalist video that'll remind you why music videos were once so important. It's directed by Aoife McArdle and features a skateboarder basically as a guide, taking you through beautiful landscapes.
You'll ride along with him through the suburbs, through the desert, past surreal, flaming people, and under a montrous, Lord of the Rings-like tree as well. All the while, he's squinting into the sun with a black eye and a dirty face.
It's great if you don't expect too much from either the song or the video and just go along.
Nothing else on the CD quite reaches the heights of that song and as the album progresses, the songs start to peter out. I'm sure there are a lot of people who will disagree, but I think as it slows down, it loses energy.
Hopkins could learn some things about slow piano music by spending some quality time with Chopin - how to elaborately beat around the bush and how to play very loosely, but right on target.
That may be unfair of me, but songs driven by lonely piano strikes lose steam quickly. They're atmospheric, but that's it.
That being said, the first half of this CD is certainly worth the purchase. You won't find better intelligent dance music around right now.
Four stars out of five.