Just over a year since it was released, Diamond Mine was one of those tiny albums that transcended its very specific appeal to end up on many critics best-of-year list and got itself a Mercury nomination into the bargain too. The original seven-track album was built from years of writings and observations from Scotland’s King Creosote and Jon Hopkins‘ delicate instrumentation. Not just a collection of songs, but an album as a whole, flowing and almost narrative-like from the opening voice of a Scottish coffee-shop server and the clink of cups to a simple acknowledgement in the final track of some young voice helping a hopeless man through another day.
In between are stories of twisted relations and exile and all painted in a local language, epic and homespun at the same time. Hopkins’ music never says more than it needs to and the harmonies to Creosote’s own voice are sparse yet perfect where they fall. The centrepiece, and one of the greatest songs to appear from last year, is ‘Bats in the Attic’. Lyrically, an embarrassment of riches with mentions of white bread and conservation rules, it’s a story you could follow for years.
The bonus disc, the hook in this re-release, contains an ‘unravelled’ version of the same song, though Hopkins’ work is so delicate that it’s barely noticeable as a different version except perhaps that it’s not quite as good. Some of the other tracks were rightfully left off the original album but act as good b-sides to anyone captured by the first seven tracks (such as ‘Honest Words’). There’s more uptempo tracks too including the curious ‘Missionary’, seemingly about bad casual sex. Highlight on this disk is the train track pulse of ‘Third Swan’, a great example of what these two guys can produce in a different mood.
For anyone not in possession of the original album this is a very worthy purchase, and in fact not even one to hesitate over. In 20 years you’ll pull out Diamond Mine and ‘Bats in the Attic’ will blow you away all over again. For others perhaps a pick ’n’ mix of tracks from the bonus disc would suffice, beginning unquestionably with ‘Third Swan’.