Jon Hopkins – Immunity (Domino Record Co.)
Jon Hopkins stupendous new album came out a couple of weeks ago. Here’s our review of what’s undoubtedly another contender for album of the year.
It starts with a key turning & ends with a single piano note gently fading out – and what happens in between is a musical masterclass.
Immunity is an album buzzing with excitement and confidence and is SO well paced and sequenced that the minute it finishes it demands you start again.
We Disappear starts proceedings with the aforementioned key turning before humming glitch-techno beats and morse code computer bleeps start popping and zigzagging around your head leaving you euphoric but disorientated, happy but queasy. Tempos slow down and speed up until we segue into the next track (and first single) Open Eye Signal.
Open is a fist pumping, head down, teeth gritted through smiles techno smasher that would give any dancer an added swagger to their moves. Mini symphonies build and drop over the main track and the last two minutes are filled with ferocious beats not quite in time to the rest of the music, adding to the glorious disorientation of the previous track
Breath This Air is all Aphex snap-whip rhythm and contains a glorious sudden drop into a lone piano motif before the gentle heartbeat bass resurfaces underneath building and building with no release of tension and just when you think things can’t get more intense we arrive at the centerpiece of the album (and according to Hopkins, the best thing he’s ever written) Collider.
This eight-plus minute showstopper is where the night starts to peak. It’s relentless rhythm and breathy vocal snapshots give Collider a life of it’s own and forces you to stay on board for the full journey. Motorik and transcendental, this track contains enough grit to satisfy serious Techno heads yet also contains enough beauty and emotion to bring tears to those same peoples eyes.
In a genius stroke of sequencing, Abandon Windows is up next. A smooth ambient piano piece, it makes you feel like your feet have left the ground due to your previous exertions (ladies and gentlemen, we are now floating in space), and holds the listener tight in its warm embrace.
Form By Firelight introduces a two-step dubstep flavor to proceedings and is specifically fuzzy and gritty, adding a small slice of Skull Disco flavor to the mix.
Sun Harmonics then brings back the gentle thrum of an ambient bassline so distinct and caressing it becomes the most gorgeous comedown you’ve ever experienced. Leaving just a warm feeling in your stomach and a spring in your now-tired step.
Closer, Immunity is one of the most beautiful tracks on the album and also one it’s most surprising. Starting with a clock and the sound of, what I guess to be, a rocking chair, the found sounds add a nice world music feel to the track. As the track builds, it metamorphosises into a glorious ballad sounding like Mogwai at their most introspective. Hopkins’ previous work as a film score composer is most evident on this track and the voices flitting in and out with hardly decipherable lyrics add more mystique to an album full of it, and that’s before the beautiful fading out of the piano that closes the album.
Recently there have been a slew of great electronica albums released by past masters trying to recapture their crown, or new artists with something new to say. However, Jon Hopkins has with Immunity (his first release for Domino Record Co) released THE electronica album of the year. In fact, it is one of the best albums released this year PERIOD.
This is a must-own release and I guarantee that in five years time, this will be looked at like the seminal album it is and will be held in the same high esteem as Ambient Works, Jilted Generation, or Music For Airports.