King Creosote & Jon Hopkins
Label: Double Six
Release date: 2011-03-28
Fifes' Kenny Anderson aka King Creosote has released a lot of music over the years, including his wonderful 2005 breakthrough album KC Rules OK and his well received 2009 album, Flick the Vs. Londons' Jon Hopkins is a sometimes electronica musician who has had the good fortune to work with and remix artists such as Four Tet, Brian Eno, Tunng, David Lynch and erm, Coldplay. Diamond Mine is a collaborative effort and in many ways serves as Anderson's love letter to his native Scotland; in particular the rustic, coastal village life that this record evokes so well.
The album opens with an introductory piece, 'First Watch', it's understated beauty and delicate piano setting the mood for the album's reflective yearnings and quiet contemplations. 'John Taylor's Month Away' is a slowly building acoustic song with Anderson's melancholic tones rising to the fore as he sings, "Once again I'd much rather be me". It's Anderson's gentle, Scottish croon that draws you into Diamond Mine; he's lucky enough to possess a genuinely brilliant voice. 'Bats in the Attic' is a sweet piano piece with Andersons' vocals perfectly complimented by female backing vocals as they sing, "It's such a waste of all that we hadâ€¦" It's quietly heartbreaking.
'Running on Fumes' is a beautiful folk lament that finds Anderson wandering, "So why do we bother with all this fighting? Especially at our age". It's Hopkins' subtle musicianship and attention to detail that gives Diamond Mine it's wistfully, melancholic atmosphere. Each track seeps into the next giving the album a casual continuity and wholeness that help bring this half an hour of music together so effortlessly. 'Bubble' blends Hopkins' melodic electronica and Anderson's wounded lyricism together perfectly. A gentle, subtle and tender pop tune full of character and experience. I sound like I'm describing a highland whiskey but there is a refined sense of fulfilment and experience to this record that makes it a wholly satisfying listen.
'Your Own Spell' evokes the kind of remote, peaceful Scottish cottage that this record was probably recorded in. It's a very homely album and certainly not a Saturday night in Glasgow kind of experience. Closing piece and possible album highlight, 'Your Young Voice' pulls on the heartstrings one last time as Kenny sings, "and it's your young voice that's keeping me holding on to my dull life". It's a frank confession and one rendered all the more poignant by Andersons' extremely tender, quiet falsetto performance.
While Hopkins' can hardly be said to have reinvented the King Creosote template, Diamond Mine remains a quietly successful collaboration. Anderson's voice, an instrument in itself, is given room with Hopkins' unobtrusive and delicately subtle arrangements. It's a very traditional song-based album in many ways but manages to sound charming and rustic as opposed to dull and outdated (hello, Coldplay et al!). It's a brief album yet it's hard to say if the impact would be lessened over the course of an hour. As it stands, Kenny Anderson and Jon Hopkins have made a record they can be extremely proud of.