King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, gets credit for many things, but his most notable feature is perhaps his most overlooked. He is rightly and universally hailed for his sterling work at the helm of Fence Records. Reference is often made to his prolific nature (according to Wikipedia, this is album number 45). The wit, sometimes sardonic style of songwriting he deploys is usually a popular caveat amongst reviewers, too. Yet, buried beneath all these hyperbolic overtures, lies the shimmering beast that is his voice. KC’s falsetto, the smoothness and beauty of his delivery, is more remarkable than any of the above and thankfully, it’s not something that escaped the attention of Jon Hopkins.

Producer and electronic / ambient musician Hopkins, for his part, is another star on the rise. He recently co-wrote and performed the Brian Eno album Small Craft on a Milk Sea and recorded the stunning soundtrack to Monsters, a British sci-fi movie from last year. Diamond Mine isn’t his first collaboration with Anderson: indeed, none of these songs are originals, having appeared in some form or another on a King Creosote album of yore. The familiarity, though, has bred brilliance. Hopkins has selected his six favourite tracks and set about reworking them to accentuate Anderson’s astonishing vocals. His role here is perhaps more subtle than what he’s been used to recently, but no more important. This album is a (quietly) roaring success.

Anderson has gone on record as saying that this is “a Fife record. The songs are rooted here, and it is as charmed an existence as Jon makes it sound”. True enough, the tracks are expansive and filled with solitude. There’s an idyllic quality that suggests Hopkins has captured the very essence of what Anderson has spent 45 albums trying to convey. First track proper ‘John Taylor’s Month Away’ is a tale of an old fisherman from Anderson’s home village of Crail, who “quashed any romantic notions” he had about a life at sea. It is simple and exquisite. Stripped down and reassembled with an accordion and a gentle 4/4 backbeat, it takes on a completely new form.

The theme of parochialism returns throughout the record, enveloping it in a sense of warmth that’s often lost in the studio. Lisa Elle from Dark Horses joins for harmonies and her soothing presence is most striking on ‘Bats in the Attic’, another highlight. On ‘Bubble’, the input of Hopkins is perhaps most noticeable: the fabricated percussion clicking along under Anderson’s vocals; but there is nothing here as radical as their first collaboration, Hopkins’ achingly beautiful remix of ‘Vice Like Gist Of It’ from KC Rules OK?

If there is to be any complaint lodged, it’s that with only seven tracks on Diamond Mine, the listener is left hungry for more. Given the fertile nature of their work, both together and alone, I think we can safely assume we haven’t heard the last of Creosote and Hopkins.

Play: KC & JH – John Taylor’s Month Away

Written for The Line of Best Fit

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