I’ve been a fan of Hopkins’ work for a number of years.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will already be aware that Hopkins has previously worked with Coldplay and his track “Light Through The Veins” was reworked into what became the introduction to opening track “Life In Technicolor” from Coldplay’s album ‘Viva la Vida Or Death And All His Friends’.

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This 15th anniversary remaster of ‘Opalescent’ sees the album released on vinyl for the first time – and it’s a stunning double LP special edition with gatefold sleeve.

For those of you who are familiar with Hopkins’ later work, in particular 2013’s glorious ‘Immunity’, his debut may initially come as somewhat of a surprise.  None of the tracks are as hard-hitting as those on ‘Immunity’.  However, what this album clearly demonstrates is just how much Hopkins has developed as an artist over the past decade or so.  ‘Opalescent’ carries much more of a ‘chill-out’ vibe than Hopkins’ later albums.  With ‘Halcyon’ or ‘Lost In Thought’, for instance, you could almost be floating in the Dead Sea.  It’s amazingly relaxed stuff – and the remastering sounds magical too.

‘Fading Glow’ is a masterclass in taking an individual idea and extrapolating it to see where it takes you on its journey.  The acoustic guitars sound sublime atop the layered synths.  Similarly, if you close your eyes, ‘Apparition’ really could be the soundtrack of a presence in the room with you.  Fans of Max Richter or Michael Nyman will love it.  At just two minutes’ duration, it’s not exactly long but is, for me, one of the album’s standout tracks.  ‘Cold Out There’ sounds hauntingly beautiful.  I defy anybody not to simply fall in love with its fragile, delicate soul.  Amazingly, the track’s nearly 4 minutes long, yet time seems to barely pass at all as I’m auditioning this track.

In summary, ‘Opalescent’ is a snapshot of a brilliant musician at the start of his career.  At the point in time when this album was recorded, Hopkins would have no realisation that he was about to embark on working with Coldplay or that he would later write and record the brilliant ‘Immunity’ and performing it live on stage during a headlining slot at Glastonbury Festival’s Park Stage.  What Hopkins delivered with ‘Opalescent’ was a gorgeous set of chill-out vibes which transport the listener to a sunset on a beach or a quiet corner of an island.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Paul Lockett

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