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White Noise: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Jon Hopkins - Immunity

Label: Domino

Up until now, Jon Hopkins’ most notable work was as a collaborator. Whether scoring award-baiting film soundtracks or collaborating with Brian Eno and even Coldplay, Hopkins’ solo work, even 2009’s Insides, had yet to thrust him into the limelight as a musician. After four long years including nine months in his East London studio (the door to which you can hear being symbolically unlocked in the album’s opening moments), Hopkins’ fourth album, Immunity, is set to change all of this. Here is a truly magnificent album, impressing through both craft and atmosphere, offering the listener a tactile, breathlessly vital world of electronic music to explore and revisit again and again.

We Disappear / Open Eye Signal / Breathe This Air / Collider / Abandon Window / Form By Firelight / Sun Harmonics / Immunity

With Immunity, Hopkins presents an album of two halves. In the first four tracks, he offers his most club-ready material to date, evoking a breathing world of lush textures and organic technoid constructions. Opener We Disappear is a blissful introduction to the sound, evocative melodies and a heaving bass throb pitted against distorted IDM tweaks and skipping percussive patterns. What is so remarkable throughout the album is that Hopkins' varied sounds always cohere wonderfully where one might expect it them to feel jarring. This duality is also present on third cut Breathe This Air, where the physicality of its machine-music pulse dances elegantly with mournful keys, erupting into an airy, tear-stained stepper which is nothing short of transcendent.

The rhythmic adventurousness of the release is brought to the fore on two titanic dance tracks, starting with visceral lead-single Open Eye Signal. Here an ominous hum lurks under celestial choral samples, dominated by an elastic propulsion; skittering percussion and powerful analog synthwork. It’s impossible to describe how deeply involving this music can be, forcing the listener to inhabit these sounds, conjuring stark visual imagery due to Hopkins’ cinematic grasp of detail and atmospherics. The same effect is pulled off on epic album centrepiece Collider, a mutating trip of harrowing synth textures and tunnelling drums that builds to a stunning, coruscating finale.

Open Eye Signal

By Collider’s close the album has reached fever pitch, and it is here that Hopkins masterfully shifts gear, opening the second half with the elegiac ambience of Abandon Window. Comprised solely of a mournful piano sequence and warm, cavernous electronic textures, the track emotes powerfully through its patience and longing, serving more as a beautiful palette-cleanser than a dissonant change in style. For the album’s second half Hopkins continues to explore the relationship between synthetic and acoustic sounds, whether on the flickering, heavenly hip hop of Form by Firelight or the serene, immaculately designed journey of the 12-minute Sun Harmonics.

Hopkins’ versatility as a producer and the coherence of his vision across Immunity is nothing short of staggering. On the closing title track, the tension that has been so masterfully constructed is given a beautiful, uplifting resolution with twinkling keys and half-heard vocals. While it's not quite as revelatory as everything which has come before, Immunity is a dreamy, hopeful end to an album which is as close to perfect as anything released so far this year, a rare triumph of originality and execution in a saturated musical landscape. Immunity demands to be heard, to be travelled with and loved, and will surely allow Hopkins to claim his rightful place in the spotlight.


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