Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Last year, Jon Hopkins tweeted “Got paid £8 for 90,000 plays. Fuck Spotify” and threatened to quit music for good. Thankfully for music lovers worldwide, he didn’t fulfil his threat and has produced one of, if not the best electronic albums of the year as a middle finger to the unfair nature of the music industry. Hopkins doesn’t just demand respect with his third full length release ‘Immunity’, he commands it. A devastating and beautiful album – in equal parts cinematic and club-centric, it shows Hopkins’ versatility, intelligence and sheer talent as a musician.
Jon Hopkins is a busy man. He produced the album Diamond Mine with King Creosote and earned a Mercury Music Prize nomination; he spent time collaborating and co-producing Coldplay’s Viva La Vida with Brian Eno and also scored the critically acclaimed lo-fi film Monsters, for which he was nominated for an Ivor Novello award. After these endeavours it was time for Hopkins to get back in the studio and reclaim his own identity as an artist. Opener ‘We Disappear’ sets the tone for the rest of the album, it’s a bold and driven track with techno influenced elements clearly on show. This blends seamlessly into the first single from the album ‘Open Eye Signal’. This track shows all we expect from an artist like Jon Hopkins; it’s cinematic and polished to perfection. In ‘Open Eye Signal’, and throughout the album, we also see a versatility in Hopkins’ tracks that could comfortably place them in a club, car or computer without losing any of their power.
The song ‘Breathe This Air’ with its glitchy drums and ominous synths serves as a fitting build up to the knockout album centrepiece ‘Collider’, a powerful track in every sense. Pounding bass and a delayed synth line fight to be heard along with atmospheric effects and vocal snatches. The different elements fight in perfect harmony which makes ‘Collider’ into a nine minute epic that refuses to be heard without completely absorbing the listener into the fray. A trained pianist turned producer, Hopkins’ classical beginnings can be heard throughout the album. Tracks like ‘Abandon Window’ and closer ‘Immunity’ both revolve around a single piano melody. ‘Abandon Window’ is backed by majestic atmospheric rumblings, whilst ‘Immunity’ has the piano line decorated with delicate cymbal sounds and minuscule samples of everyday clicks and taps.
The album’s weak point comes at the three quarter point and after the assault/recovery combination of ‘Collider’ and ‘Abandon Window’. ‘Form By Firelight’ lacks the direction of the other tracks and seems to be missing the level of complexity heard elsewhere. Sun Harmonics’ falls into a similar trap, as well as being far too long at over eleven and a half minutes. It’s beautifully crafted, but easy to lose focus with. The final track ‘Immunity’ sums up the record and Hopkins as an artist. Every sound and silence is meticulously created and positioned. Sonically, it’s incredibly well made and is the kind of album that good quality speakers and headphones were made for. Jon Hopkins can well and truly step out of the shadows of others and be proud of Immunity which could potentially be not just the best electronic album of the year, but the best album of any genre in 2013.