Electronic musician Jon Hopkins is well known for producing impressive and complex records. His last full-length album, 2018’s Singularity, was nominated for a Grammy thanks to its perfectly blended mix of pounding electronic beats with rich industrial and psychedelic sounds.
In an announcement last week, Hopkins revealed his next release, Music For Psychedelic Therapy, will be “an album with no beats, not one drum sound, something that is closer to a classical symphony than a dance/electronica record. Something that is more like having an experience than listening to a piece of music.”
The new album is a distinct departure from his usual dance-oriented style, inspired by a visit to Tayos Caves in Ecuador where he went on a life-changing creative expedition in 2018. Hopkins wanted to make something that faced the opposite direction from his usual style, something egoless and introspective, made with total, raw honesty. “It felt like time for a reset, to wait for music to appear from a different place”.
The first release from the album, Sit Around The Fire, is the closing track, and couldn’t be any closer to psychedelic spirituality, being produced in collaboration with East Forest, and featuring previous unheard recordings of Ram Dass.
“It felt like time for a reset, to wait for music to appear from a different place”
“Sit Around The Fire’ exists from one of the deep synchronicities that ushered this thing (Music For Psychedelic Therapy) into being,” comments Hopkins. “I was contacted by East Forest, who had spent some time with Ram Dass in Hawaii before he passed. He was given access to several lesser-heard talks from the 70s, and asked to set them to music. He sent me some starting points, including the beautiful choral vocals he recorded which open the piece. I put my headphones on and with Ram Dass’ voice inside my head, I sat at the piano and improvised. What you hear is the first thing that came out – it just appeared in response to the words.”
While layering beatless music over speeches from Ram Dass might sound trite, the result is nothing less than breathtaking. The release is accompanied by a video using beautiful animated imagery from the pages of Ram Dass’ iconic book Be Here Now, which coincidentally celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Speaking more about the forthcoming release, Hopkins said the album is “something that is more like having an experience than listening to a piece of music. Maybe something far more emotionally honest than I had been comfortable making before – a merging of music, nature and my own desire to heal. The freedom from traditional rhythmic structures unlocked so much – it felt like I was free to explore a new form of rhythm, one that you discover when you just allow things to flow without letting yourself get in the way.
“Music For Psychedelic Therapy is not ambient, classical or drone but has elements of all three. For me it’s a place as much as it is a sound. It works for the sober mind, but takes on a new dimension entirely when brought into a psychedelic ceremony. In my own psychedelic explorations testing this music, I found a quote I had read would keep coming to mind. ‘Music is liquid architecture, architecture is frozen music.’ I love this idea of music as something you inhabit, something that works on you energetically. In fact, it was while in that state that the title appeared to me. Psychedelic-assisted therapies are moving into legality across the world, and yet it feels like no one is talking about the music; the music is as important as the medicine.”
Released digitally on 12th November, Music For Psychedelic Therapy is set to be the soundtrack to spiritual journeys for years to come. You can presave the album to Spotify here.