Hugh Hopper

(Burning Shed)

The announcement that a new Hugh Hopper CD was to be released made me curious. And my curiosity only increased when I read that the title of the new CD was Jazzloops. The CD is burnt on demand: you pay, they burn, you get the record. Right. The CD cover shows the (bare) essential informations, with the players names - some are the usual suspects (Elton Dean, John Marshall, Robert Wyatt, Didier Malherbe), while some aren't (Pierre-Olivier Govin, Kim Weemhoff) - being mentioned only collectively.

The album's climates will obviously be pretty familiar to those who have listened a few times to this bassist and composer during his very long career. But this time Hopper appears to have fun in confounding at least some of the listener's expectations. His fuzz bass and those unmistakable melodic progressions immediately reveal the identity of the composer of Afrik and Acloop, while in other instances it's a bit more difficult to guess who we are listening to (and that's not necessarily a bad thing). The loops' repetitive atmosphere goes along well with the more conventional instrumental touches, especially the saxophones, and the album mostly succeeds, while managing to avoid pastiche.

Jazzloops sounds "current" but not "à la mode". Those listeners who enjoy music as background will not demand their money back (it's not impossible to imagine this CD giving "ambience" to a trendy club), but Jazzloops definitely manages to sustain (and reward) more concentrated listening sessions.

So from this point on it's "only" a marketing issue. I still remember my surprise when, about a couple of years ago, I listened to an album by Nils Potter Molvær (Solid Ether) that a lot of the press praised to the stars only to find a mediocre rehash of other people's music. Here Hopper has only copied from himself.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2003 | Feb. 10, 2003