If there was anyone who picked up the passed torch from Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins can make a pretty solid claim to it. The classically trained pianist has been releasing texture-based work, some electronic and some acoustic, for the past two decades. He was even a one-time Eno protege, having contributed to the 2010 release Small Craft on a Milk Sea. Now, Hopkins has paid tribute to his former collaborator by covering ‘Wintergreen’, the fourth track from the only album that Brian has made solely with his brother Roger, last year’s Mixing Colours.
The major change from the Eno’s version to Hopkins’ is that the synth bloops of the original are now replaced with the naturalistic plonks of an upright piano. Consequently, Hopkins’ ‘Wintergreen’ takes on a softer, jazzier feel than the brittle electronica of the original. It’s all very serene and calming, the kind of easy listening that can put you in a trance or put you right to sleep, depending on your mood/caffeine intake.
Conjuring images of a pastoral field covered in snow, ‘Wintergreen’ is a delicate composition that could easily be overplayed or ruined by just a single bum note. Luckily, Hopkins has the skill and reservation to only play exactly what is needed. Concepts like “open space” and “minimalism” aren’t exactly en vogue in the modern pop sphere, and ‘Wintergreen’ is unlikely to make a dent on the charts, but it’s a heartwarming tribute from an acolyte to his teacher that acknowledges Eno’s genius while making a strong case for Hopkins’ genius as well.
Appropriately, ‘Wintergreen’ will be featured on Hopkins’ upcoming EP Piano Versions, which is also set to feature covers of songs by fellow electronic master Luke Abbott and the folkier stylings of James Yorkston.
Take a listen to ‘Wintergreen’ down below. Piano Versions will be released on April 16th.