Plenty of outlier genres seek to take the listener elsewhere – through drumming, chanting, the devotional music of the east and south, drones, oscillations or electronics. Sometimes this altered state is helped along by useful plants; sometimes, it’s the more unadorned experience of great stillness allied to awe – which is where British electronic producer Jon Hopkins lands on his sixth solo album, a post-lockdown aural balm that sits usefully alongside Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics (2018).
In addition to his fine, beat-based output, Hopkins has previously worked with Brian Eno and released generative meditation tracks. His bona fides are hardly in question. Here, he improvises in response to the voice of the late mindfulness pioneer Ram Dass on East Forest: Sit Around the Fire; much of this ambient statement was inspired by a trip to, or in, an Ecuadorean cave. But in among all this pervasive beauty (which tends towards expansive prettiness and resonant succour rather than the sterner, more austere end of the ambience spectrum), it feels like only the eight-minute apex track Deep in the Glowing Heart rearranges the listener’s molecules in a transformational way.