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Hugh Hopper

Jazzloops / The Stolen Hour

Review by Gary Hill

This double CD set includes two rare albums from Hugh Hopper. For those who don't know, Hopper was at one time a member of Soft Machine. The discs include guest appearances by Robert Wyatt and Elton Dean, also of Soft Machine fame along with other musicians. These albums have both been remastered, and the booklet that is included has a comic that was originally part of "The Stolen Hour" when it was released. The music here is a great combination of space music, jazz, electronics and more, with different elements taking the forefront on different songs. It's all artsy, instrumental and compelling. It should be noted that the titles on the first disc are all presented sans capital letters because that's the way it's shown on the cover.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1

Coming in like an orchestra tuning up, this turns more experimental and trippy as it continues.

A more rhythmic vibe gets this going . Weird jazz meets art music things come over the top of it. This is compelling and almost machine-like in some ways. Some King Crimson-like sounds rise up after a time.
Trippy space sounds merge with jazz and some cool rhythmic grooves. This gets more percussive later. As odd as this is, it's one of the most effective here for me.
Coming in rhythmic, electronics and other oddities come over the top as it develops. Eventually some jazzy things are added to the mix. The horn playing gets very intense and crazed as this works forward.
Harder rocking this has both some distorted textures and jazzy horns. Both of those things run over the top of a killer rhythmic groove. It gets pretty driving and is a highlight of this first disc.
I really dig the rhythmic groove and spacey jazz sounds on this. There is a looped, processed, sampled voice type thing at play on this cut. The noisy guitar playing brings something special to it, too. The horn solo later is all class, too. This is another standout.
This is arguably the most mainstream sounding thing on the first CD. It has a real jazz prog meets electronic music vibe to it.
Here we get another smoking hot jazz jam. This gets into some expressive and rather freeform territory, but it's also on the more mainstream end. It's a killer jam.
Decidedly jazzy, this one gets pretty strange. It does have some electronic and trippy leanings, though.
Percussion gets us underway here. Electronic jazz rock with some world music vibes take over on this tune. It's an energetic and entertaining one that works particularly well.
Cool jazz jamming is on the menu here. This isn't a big change from the last few, but it is very effective.
CD 2
The Stolen Hour
Craig's Distended Train Ride

I dig the rhythmic groove of this track, but also the tasty horn work. This has an intriguing art music meets jazz vibe to it.

Complications at Work
This is a little more rocking. It has some soaring horn work. It's another strong piece of music. This is much more pure jazz, but there are some other things in the mix, too. It really does get pretty crazed at times.
An Inescapable Encounter with Mrs. Pry
There is a healthy helping of world music built into this as it gets going. There is also more electronic stuff here. This one definitely gets into some more experimental territory with some echoey, spacey stuff later.
Yearning for the Stolen Hour
Trippy psychedelia meets proggy electronic sounds as this gets going. There are some jazzy things that are transfused into it further down the road. The horn playing gets pretty inspired later.
The Long Drive
An energetic romp, there is a lot of world music included here. It's a classy piece of music.
An Unregulated Sunset
With some cool spacey electronic stuff in the driver's seat, this is another intriguing number. It's a change from what we've heard so far on this second CD, but it's also very cool.
A Sideways Peek at Dreamtime
Another that lands on the trippy end of things. This has some world music built into it, but also plenty of cool, spacey electronica.
Snide Wisdom Involving the Immateriality of Time
Cool jazz meets space rocking vibes on this piece. It's another classy number on a disc full of classy music.
The Stuff He Sees
Trippy jazz flavored electronic music is the concept here. This is a change from the rest on this CD, but it's also so cool. It gets pretty crazed and freeform as it continues the musical exploration.
Mia's Timely Emergence from the East
Another that feels more experimental and freeform, this is packed full of electronics and jazz concepts. It's spacey and so cool.
Trippy elements and jazzy horn creates an intriguing sonic tapestry here. This has a lot of class and style, while still remaining on the mellower side of the spectrum.
Sharing the Stolen Hour
More of a pure prog rock sound is on display here. This has a great energy and some cool layers of sound built into it. There are still some jazzy things brought by the horn, but the guitar and keyboards really dominate.



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