|Jon Hopkins — Immunity [Rough Trade Edition] (2013)|
Jon Hopkins — Immunity [Rough Trade Edition]
Ξ British artist makes melodic electronica that owes a debt to Brian Eno, Steve Reich, and contemporary IDM.
Ξ Mercury Prize 2013: Immunity has been shortlisted for this year's Mercury Music Prize.
Genres: Electronic, Music, Ambient, Dance, Techno, Industrial, Jazz, Big Band, Rock
Born: 1979 in Wimbledon
Birth name: Jonathan Julian Hopkins
Instruments: Keyboard, Organ, Piano, harmonium
Location: Hackney (near Victoria Park), East London, UK
Album release: June 4th/December 9, 2013
Record Label: Domino Records
Duration: 60:05 + 28:05 => 88:10
01 We Disappear 4:50
02 Open Eye Signal 7:49
03 Breathe This Air 5:30
04 Collider 9:22
05 Abandon Window 4:58
06 From by Firelight 5:45
07 Sun Harmonics 11:54
08 Immunity (Kenny Anderson / Jon Hopkins) 9:57
Bonus CD (Rough Trade Edition)
09 Breathe This Air (feat. Purity Ring) 4:07
10 Open Eye Signal (Nosaj Thing Remix) 3:30
11 Open Eye Signal (Luke Abbot Remix) 6:55
12 Open Eye Signal (Happa Remix) 6:03
13 Open Eye Signal (Lord Of The Isles Remix) 7:27
℗ 2013 Domino Recording Co Ltd
Ξ According to reviews, “Hopkins's aesthetic is perpetually intriguing. He transcends genres, melding digital coldness with subtle, bucolic textures; veering from skewed elegance to strange, unsettling depths.„
Ξ “He makes powerfully emotive, instrumental music that consistently crosses genres, ranging from solo acoustic piano to explosive, bass-heavy electro.„ Also, he “meticulously constructs lush, downtempo arrangements, blending digital beats and soothing ambience.„
Album Moods: Bittersweet Brooding Cerebral Delicate Detached Ethereal Hypnotic Intimate Literate Melancholy Nocturnal Reflective Restrained
Ξ Rough Trade exclusive with a 5 Track Remix CD featuring mixes from Nosaj Thing, Luke Abbot, Happa, Lord of the Isles and ‘Breathe This Air’ Featuring Purity Ring.
Themes: Feeling Blue Introspection Late Night Reflection Solitude
Contemporaries: Ulrich Schnauss, Kieran Hebden, Max Richter, Hauschka, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Four Tet, Plaid
Ξ Kenny Anderson Composer
Ξ Matthew Cooper Layout
Ξ Guy Davie Mastering
Ξ Lisa Elle Vocals
Ξ Tim Exile Programming
Ξ Linden Gledhill Artwork
Ξ Cherif Hashizume Engineer
Ξ Rick Holland Titles
Ξ Jon Hopkins Composer, Primary Artist, Titles
Ξ Sarah Jones Drums
Ξ King Creosote Vocals
Ξ Rik Simpson Mixing
Ξ Vince Sipprell Vocals
Ξ Emma Smith Violin, Vocals
Ξ Mark Sutherland Design
Ξ Lee Walpole Sound Source
Ξ Craig Ward Artwork
by STEPHEN THOMPSON; May 26, 201310:30 PM
Ξ For composer, remixer, producer, prolific collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Jon Hopkins, sound is a three-dimensional medium: It billows out in every direction, mixing artful throbs and animalistic thrusts that can be felt under the skin.
Ξ But as driving as his beats can be — and on his new album Immunity, they’re plenty driving — Hopkins retains a gift for tear-jerking melody that takes an expressway to the listener’s emotions.
Ξ Hopkins’ gift for warm textures helped make a masterpiece of Diamond Mine, his 2011 collaboration with Scottish singer King Creosote; he used largely organic instrumentation to help paint an audio portrait of a coastal town full of dreamers and lost souls. Two of Immunity’s eight songs — the 10-minute title track, featuring an ethereal guest vocal from Creosote, and the gorgeous “Abandon Window” — carry on in Diamond Mine’s plaintively lovely tradition, while Immunity’s remainder is given over to intense dance music that thumps and wobbles with insistence, aggression and grace.
Ξ For those who strongly favor one approach to the other, the juxtaposition can be jarring; Immunity is intended to mirror the feel of a night out, and it captures both highs and lows. But in Hopkins’ living, breathing world of sound, beauty and beats are always free to commingle in ways that move, in every sense of the word.
Review by Heather Phares; Score: ★★★½
Ξ Between Insides and its follow-up Immunity, Jon Hopkins worked with King Creosote on the charming Diamond Mine, which set the Scottish singer/songwriter's ruminations to backdrops that were half rustic folk and half evocative washes of sound. Ξ Immunity isn't nearly as acoustic as that collaboration was, but its gently breezy feel lingers on several of these songs: "Breathe This Air" expands from a pounding house rhythm into a roomy piano meditation that recalls Max Richter as much as Diamond Mine, while the title track — which happens to feature King Creosote's vocals — closes the album on a whispery note. This feeling extends to the rest of the album in less obvious ways; Immunity is often a more blended, and more expansive-sounding work than Insides, particularly on songs like the Brian Eno-esque "Abandon Window" and "Form by Firelight," which offers a playful study in contrasts in the way it bunches into glitches and then unspools a peaceful piano melody. Some of Immunity's most impressive moments expand on the blend of rhythm and atmosphere Hopkins emphasized on Insides: "Collider" uses sighing vocals courtesy of Dark Horses' Lisa Elle as punctuation for almost imperceptibly shifting beats and a heavy bassline that helps the track build into a moody, elegant whole; meanwhile, the aptly named "Sun Harmonics" turns Elle's sighs into something angelic over the course of 12 serene minutes. Despite these highlights, the album still reflects how Hopkins' polished approach is something of a blessing and a curse. Immunity shows how he's grown, in his subtle, accomplished way, as a composer and producer, yet its tracks occasionally feel like the surroundings for a focal point that never arrives. Even if it doesn't always demand listeners' attention, Immunity is never less than thoughtfully crafted. © Jon Hopkins in interview with Kat Phan/Photography: Jay Brooks
Interview: WORDS KAT PHAN; 8x Q+A: :: http://www.cordyhouse.co.uk/jon-hopkins-the-melody-maker/
Interview: by Lucy Jones; Posted on 14 Jun 13:: 14x Q+A: :: http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/jon-hopkins-qa-on-mind-altering-new-album-immunity
Interview: "Jon Hopkins interview by Peter Hollo". Cyclic Defrost. May 31, 2009.:: http://www.cyclicdefrost.com/blog/2009/05/jon-hopkins-qa/
Ξ The first sound on Immunity is that of a key turning, unlocking the door into Jon Hopkins’ East London studio. It's followed by the noise of the door slamming, then footsteps, and then finally the crisp, clipping rhythms and pulsating bass of ‘We Disappear’ emerge, signposting the most club-friendly music Hopkins’ has made to date. So begins a confident, dramatic record defined by this acute sense of physicality and place; a bold statement after the quiet, intimate Diamond Mine, his Mercury-nominated 2011 collaboration with King Creosote.
Ξ Until now, Jon Hopkins has been an elusive character, known to most as an expert producer, Ivor Novello-nominated composer of film scores, remixer and long term collaborator of Brian Eno and Coldplay. Yet as Hopkins freely admits, the fact that his solo albums to date (Opalescent, 2001; Contact Note, 2004; Insides, 2009) have been rather overshadowed by his work with others has meant that he’s been able to quietly develop his own identity, style and sound. Some of the ideas for Immunity have been in his mind for a long time, but there’s never been a rush to get them out there. It’s part of his mission to make music that feels as natural and unforced as possible.
Ξ Yet from the moment you hear that key turn in the lock, Immunity announces itself as a powerful, multi-faceted beast, packed with the most aggressively dancefloor-focussed music Hopkins has ever made. Initial indications suggest his first foray into riffs and grooves is paying off. See first single from the album, ‘Open Eye Signal’, where a high pressure hiss gives way to burbling, insistent rhythm — a chrome express train accelerating through a sunlit landscape. The track got its first outing courtesy of Apparat at a DJ set in Japan on New Year’s Eve — an email from the German musician informing Hopkins that the room had erupted made for a great late Christmas present. Ξ Or ‘Breathe This Air’ with its graceful build and huge contrasts in mood via uppity rhythms, mournful piano notes, and stirring choral drones. And then there’s ‘Collider’, the album’s peak and the track that Hopkins says is the best he’s ever written. A ten minute techno monster, ‘Collider’ is underpinned by a constant, pounding bass pulse and a sinister texture that could be a harshly taken breath inside a gas mask. The towering central riff makes for a mournful, dystopian aesthetic, cinematic like black rain over neon. Yet the bleak euphoria that suggests a knees-up at the end of the world is only half the story — the compelling 4/4 rhythm and hint of a human vocal give this a massive twist halfway through.
Ξ Hopkins deliberately structured Immunity with this colossal banger in the middle. The whole album, therefore, works as an idealised soundtrack to a massive night out, peaking with a huge, lost-in-the-moment climax that feels like more than mere hedonism, warm endorphins swilling around the mind. This desire to create dancefloor-focussed music that was a step up from the slower tempo ambience of his previous solo albums was largely inspired by months spent in clubs and at festivals touring Insides. This gradual absorption of anything from the futuristic oddness found at LA's Low End Theory club night (at which he has made several live appearances) to sterner European techno seeped out in the studio, shaping his mission to find new melodic routes through what were for him uncharted rhythmic territories.
Ξ What makes Immunity so intriguing, however, is the methods Hopkins used to do this. A curse of contemporary clubbing is the audible strain of laptop-DJd and computer-made MP3s through powerful PA systems.
Ξ Hopkins, on the other hand, went out of his way to make music that sounded like physically built things with layer upon layer of depth, a long way from the cold CGI artifice of much entirely computer-derived electronica.
Ξ This desire to use physical, real-world sounds (anything from tapping a piano and drumming on the desk to a two quid tambourine and salt and pepper shakers) as the basis for many of Immunity’s rhythms also comes from Hopkins’ frustration with the ubiquity of certain synthetic drum machine samples in much contemporary dance music. In the corner of his studio sits the piano that he has had since he was eight-years-old, and the instrument features throughout the more nostalgic second half of Immunity... but not always as you’d expect — Hopkins also uses it to explore new methods of sound generation. On ‘Form By Firelight’, for example, the pedals provide the beat, and the strings are struck for chiming tones.
Ξ Hopkins’ intent throughout was to be open to the world around him finding its way into the music, wherever he was. These happy moments of unintended creation included the reverse alarm of a lorry outside his Bow studio hitting a certain note during a recording session, serendipitously leading the chord sequence down a different path. The whistle and pop of fireworks emanating from the nearby Olympic Stadium were captured and slowed down, to sound like the echoes of a distant battle. Life and grit came from actively boosting things that aren’t supposed to be there, such as the rattle of window frame at every kick drum hit. This method of looking inside the music for interesting details to pull out and tricking the brain with technically incorrect recording methods might have most studio engineers tutting, but here helped to create a mangled reality. In Hopkins’ studio everything can be melodic, and nothing is wasted.
Ξ With this sense of place, Immunity is also a sketch of real experiences and memories absorbed by Hopkins over his thirty-three years. These he now tries to reflect and respond to in his music. This might be the quest to recapture the sound of a perfect chord made by water running through pipes in a New York hotel room, or the light reflecting off the surface of the Thames at certain times of the year, the random patterns of nature. This not only makes the album deeply personal to Hopkins, but is key to one of his main inspirations in recording it — the desire to slow down or alter the brainwaves to help us reach different states of mind, whether via hypnosis, music, or drugs.
Ξ Self-hypnosis is a longstanding personal fascination that Hopkins wanted to bring into his music, yet it was only on Immunity that he felt he had the technical ability to actually try and make it happen. The quality control that decided whether or not tracks were finished was to come into the studio in the morning, and if the track started sending him off into another world, it was done. Similarly, when it seemed that Immunity might be ready for mastering, Hopkins tested it by lying on the studio floor, hitting play, and seeing where his mind ended up. With a stated aim to see if this music might have a similar effect on those who encounter it, Immunity feels like the accompaniment to a journey of creativity, a trip inside Hopkins’ mind.
Ξ That keys-in-the-lock recording that begins the album might usher the listener into the studio to be present at the moment of the music’s creation, but it has a counterpoint in the thrilling album closer, and the song that gives the album its name. Ξ ‘Immunity’ is built around rhythms that creak and mutter like the workings of an old watermill joined by a simple, elegiac piano part and indecipherable vocals by King Creosote, as if to paint an inverse to the techno tumult that dominates the album’s first half. The very natural-sounding rattle and dying piano notes at the record’s end show just how far we and Hopkins have come on one of the most human electronic albums you’ll hear this year.
|Jon Hopkins — Immunity [Rough Trade Edition] (2013)|