Jon Hopkins Immunity
It has been over four years since Jon Hopkins' Insides was released, and from the opening moments of Immunity, it's easy to hear why. Hopkins is from a school of production that values craftsmanship over most everything else, and it's conceivable that producing electronic music with the attention to detail that can be heard on his fourth full-length requires a considerable amount of time.
For better or worse, Immunity makes little reference to the current landscape of electronic production. Isolation like this can be disastrous for many artists, but for Hopkins, this seems to be where he thrives; his unique ideas and ultimate execution are strong enough to exist outside of any particular trend or movement. It seems that Hopkins is only worried with building on—and gradually evolving past—his previous efforts. In many ways, Immunity revisits into the sonic world presented on 2009's Insides; the hyper-detailed sounds and gorgeous space which made his past LP such a strong and memorable listen have been refined to even more polished ends here, though the compositions take noticeably different forms. Whether laying into long spurts of driving, textured techno on tracks like "Open Eye Signal" and "Collider," or delving into melodic ambiance on songs like "Abandon Window," the consistently pristine and largely unparalleled depths with which Hopkins' tracks are presented create the sonic thread holding together his new album. There is also an Eno-esque atmosphere that appears throughout Immunity, a kind of angelic presence touching every track and even making Hopkins' more brooding efforts introspective in a very powerful way.
After opening the first half of Immunity with rich, textured outings of techno-driven momentum on "We Disappear," album standout "Open Eye Signal," and the almost 10-minute "Collider," Hopkins turns a corner with "Abandon Window." The drumless composition's melancholic piano chords and slow-building field of noise are the LP's first step back, allowing the rush of Immunity's initial 30 minutes a chance to finally sink in. From there, Hopkins settles further into a withheld atmosphere—"Form by Firelight" applies an almost-hip-hop-indebted stutter to its piano-led movements, while "Sun Harmonics" (the LP's longest outing at 12 minutes) hits a warm and dreamy stride that beautifully lives up to the song's title despite only offering bits of hesitant melody. In the end, it makes for the record's most spellbinding listen.
Even considering the somewhat underwhelming quality—at least in comparison to its exceptional counterparts—of the closing title track, Immunity is truly a masterfully made record, one that marries precise sonic sculpting with graceful musicality. Like much of Hopkins' work, the LP is vividly cinematic; listeners will find it hard to take in its tracks without their imaginations conjuring distinct visual representations to match. Still, Immunity is not for everyone, especially those who come to electronic music merely for its club-ready, dancefloor offerings. But for those who listen seeking to peer into sonic worlds that might not otherwise exist, Hopkins has created one which is rich with gorgeous detail and worth fully exploring.
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