Somewhere between a composer and producer, Jon Hopkins has spent the last decade or so pursuing his own form of electronic-aided classical music. After creating the soundtrack to the 2010 film Monsters, alongside three previous more classically inclined albums, he has made an effort to embrace more direct elements of left-field dance music into his sound with his latest record.
After starting with the sound of a door opening, We Disappear takes the form of sparse bleeps and shuffling, warped 8-bit percussion. The serene piano outro highlights the juxtaposition between clean intimate piano and ambience and huge electronics that lies at the centre of the album. Breathe This Air follows a similar path as drones grow around lonely echoing piano notes, bringing togetherstumbling beats and dark, techno synths in a similar manner to the German production duo Moderat. Its the first single and album highpoint, Open Eye Signal, that really lays out Hopkins' dance floor intentions. A pounding 4/4 rhythm surrounded by deep and heavy bass morphs and progresses gradually over the track, pulsating and rising like a crescendo, before giving itself up to the beat for it's last two minutes.
Collider takes a stab at dense minimal house, though seems somewhat meandering under its 9 minute duration. Likewise, Form by Firelight seems aimless, but the middle of the record is redeemed by Abandon Window, coming close to the ambience of Brian Eno, who he has frequently collaborated with. It slows the pace of the album down, like taking a long period of time to consider a single moment. It provides a moment of serene reflection before the album heads back towards the dance floor one last time as Sun Harmonics provides some of the albums most direct and immediate thrills next to One Eye Signal. The 11 minute track starts with piano and a simple bass drum beat before a full house-influenced rhythm forms, driven by some deep bass, building upon layers of percussion and glittering ambience. The album ends with title track, Immunity, following a simple piano melody pieced together with acoustic percussive samples to create an organic rhythm. An ethereal voice is added to the mix, recalling the dreamy post-rock of Sigur Rós.
The effect of incorporating current strands of electronic music whilst fitting in with the texturally focused neo-classical that’s the speciality of labels like Erased Tapes, can at times be jarring, though he clearly understands both of these different musical worlds and fans of either will find much to appreciate here. At its worst it can sound quite similar to other artists who have been exploring some of the same sonic directions for some time, yet its hard not to admire the faultless production and beautiful ambience that Jon Hopkins seems to deliver with ease.
Originally posted on figure8magazine.co.uk