Hugh Hopper/Matt Howarth
The Stolen Hour

(Burning Shed)

About two years ago, the newly released album by Hugh Hopper, Jazzloops, had surprised me quite a bit. First, because of its "on demand" formula: you asked for it (and paid for it, obviously...), they mastered it for you. Then, for the technical aspects: lotsa loops, some flesh-and-blood players putting the icing on the cake, computers galore. As I wrote in my review, it was only a case of getting used to the album, and then finding its merits was quite easy. It goes without saying that Jazzloops was not the first album that I would suggest to somebody who has never heard Hopper's music. And it's quite obvious that listening to that album while having in mind most of Hopper's recorded output makes for a different listening experience from those coming in cold. Anyway, it was nice to see that he had used those means wisely and in a musical way.

Titled The Stolen Hour, the new chapter is one for whose music Hopper is the sole author, in so differently from In A Dubious Manner, a CD whose music authorship he had shared with Julian Whitfield. Matt Howarth, in fact, is the creator of a comic strip that is part of this CD as a PDF file that's accessible via Acrobat Reader. The work sounds just as fresh as Jazzloops, with some of the players who had enriched that album showing up again here - for in., the very good and versatile Pierre-Olivier Govin on saxophones and Robert Wyatt on cornet and vocal loops. The album is very varied, with some nice fuzz bass and a closing track that superficially resembles Sex And Drugs And Rock'n'Roll but that's more likely to be related to Charlie Haden's bass solo on Ornette Coleman's Ramblin'.

I really don't know who will buy this album. But I'd bet that in a blind listening test many reviewers would find those qualities that are customarily overlooked as soon as it's known that this album was made by a "historic name".

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2004 | Dec. 12, 2004