Album Reviews - Reviews

Jon Hopkins – Immunity


It’s been an unfortunate quirk of  Jon Hopkins’ career to date that his own fine solo work has been largely overlooked in favour of his collaborative efforts. Playing with Brian Eno, popping up unexpectedly on Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and conjuring up the sparkling Diamond Mine mini-album with Scotland’s finest, King Creosote are undoubtedly impressive CV points but give the impression of the Londoner as a talented studio gun-for-hire rather than a great artist in his own right. This is the record that should finally change all that.

Though not by any stretch a concept album, Immunity has been sequenced to mimic the experience of a night out. Thus opener ‘We Disappear’ commences with the sound of keys and footsteps as we are ushered into Hopkins’ neon-lit world. Squelchy, glitching house beats anchor gently swelling electro bleeps as the track grows in intensity, leading perfectly into the dark, throbbing floor-filler ‘Open Eye Signal’. Hopkins has never sounded so confident, expertly controlling the ebb and flow of the track, each subsequent listen revealing new layers and resonances. The stunning ‘Breathe This Air’ blends this floor-friendly approach with aching ambient washes and piano. Its stuttering rhythms and breakdowns perfectly convey the peaks and troughs as substances kick in before inhibitions vanish and the beat becomes all on the erotic and relentless ‘Collider’.

After the highs of the first half, the comedown is just as spectacular. Meditative piano and distant melodic echoes form the slow-mo majesty of ‘Abandon Window’, while ‘Form By Firelight’s soothing, loping beat is partially constructed from samples of different piano innards being struck. ‘Sun Harmonics’ melds grainy percussion with evocative synths, jazzy piano runs and bubbling glitches to mesmerizing effect. The album closes with its hypnotic title track, in which piano and found-sound ambience gradually coalesce into a thing of shimmering wonder, King Creosote’s fragile croon emerging as an indispensible reminder that this has all been a quintessentially human experience. Indeed, it is rare to come across an electronic record that feels this organic, even during the hedonistic rush of the first half; the subtle integration of analogue sounds and Hopkins’ own field recordings throughout lend Immunity a warmth and life crucial to its success. It’s a superbly constructed and structured record, and his best work yet. Lee Gorman

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