Albums of the Year (#5): King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
It seems entirely in keeping with the development and theme of Diamond Mine that its big news story, a lucrative Mercury Prize nomination, felt a world away to creators Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson and Jon Hopkins. “Jon and I were on tour in the States having a great time when we heard,” says Anderson. “Then we went off to Minneapolis to play to eight or nine folk!”
This dislocation from a thoroughly modern world with all its whiz, bang and glitz seems poetic for an album conceived in small, sleepy fishing towns in the East Neuk of Fife. Anderson’s bittersweet compositions take centre stage in this brief, almost transparent album, with producer and musician Jon Hopkins lending ethereal landscapes and field recordings that help transport the listener to its earthy, coastal charms.
Though Anderson guesses that it took around seven weeks in real time to write and produce, this was spread over something closer to seven years, the luxury of time afforded to the artists by the fact that no one was expecting the album in the first place. “There was no goalpost in sight, it was just a song at a time,” says Anderson of the process. Many such songs found their way onto other projects as needs dictated, yet it’s now something which has left a trail through the K.C. back-catalogue on the lead up to this point. “Jon produced Bombshell and some of Flick the Vs,” explains Anderson. “The Racket They Made, Admiral and Leslie were all going to be ‘Diamond Mine’ songs, so when you hear those in that context, you can see where we were going with this.”
As such, Diamond Mine has slowly gestated throughout Anderson’s many different guises to reach an, at times, heartbreakingly beautiful lament to a simpler life we all sometimes crave. Its critical and commercial success is perhaps a surprise only when we overlook that fact in ourselves, or forget to ascribe it to others. “It’s a lesson learned,” says Anderson of the unexpected triumph. “As much as you plot and scheme and hope to do all the right things, it’s the will of the Gods as to what really happens.” Amen to that, but with Diamond Mine we can return to this fortuitous piece of heaven whenever we please.