Jon Hopkins – “Sit Around The Fire” (Feat. Ram Dass & East Forest)
Jon Hopkins has announced a new album called Music For Psychedelic Treatment, his first full-length since 2018’s Singularity. The album was inspired in part by Tayos Caves in Ecuador, where Hopkins visited in 2018 and which are represented on the LP by three tracks featuring field recordings by Mendel Kaelen.
“It felt like time for a reset, to wait for music to appear from a different place,” Hopkins says. Today, the electronic composer is sharing the record’s closing track “Sit Around The Fire,” a collaboration with producer and ceremony guide East Forest featuring vocals from the late guru Ram Dass. As Hopkins explains:
“Sit Around The Fire” exists from one of the deep synchronicities that ushered this thing (Music For Psychedelic Therapy) into being. 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.
What grew from this experience is 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. 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. But the music is as important as the medicine.
“Sit Around The Fire” is extraordinarily calming, a meditative eight-minute soundscape of piano chords and washes of beautifully drifting drones punctuated by Ram Dass’ teachings. The music video, made by Tom Readdy and Lucy Dawkins at Yes Please, uses animated imagery taken from the pages of Dass’ book Be Here Now, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Watch and listen below.
02 “Tayos Caves, Ecuador i”
03 “Tayos Caves, Ecuador ii”
04 “Tayos Caves, Ecuador iii”
05 “Love Flows Over Us In Prismatic Waves”
06 “Deep In The Glowing Heart”
07 “Ascending, Dawn Sky”
09 “Sit Around The Fire” (Feat. Ram Dass & East Forest)
Music For Psychedelic Therapy is out 11/12 (digitally/CD) and 2/11 (LP) via Domino. Pre-order it here.x