Jon Hopkins, Immunity

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 06.04.13 in Reviews

For much of his career, Jon Hopkins has been better known within the community of musicians and producers than he has to the public. The classically trained pianist’s first two albums (2001′s Opalescent and 2004′s Contact Note) were under-the-radar affairs, but they got him noticed by Brian Eno, who recruited him for his 2005 album Another Day on Earth and then brought him on board Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. Hopkins worked again with Eno for 2010′s Small Craft on a Milk Sea, and the following year he lent his studio prowess to the Mercury-nominated Diamond Mine, an electronic folk album made with Scotland’s King Creosote. But Immunity finds him definitively asserting his own voice as a musician and producer.

Asserting his own voice as a musician and producer

It’s heavier, and even clubbier, than one might have expected from his resume, underpinned by thundering kick drums and heaving waves of sub bass. Hopkins has said that the album’s sweep is intended to encapsulate the feeling of an epic night out, and that certainly comes across in the music: The slow gallop of “Open Eye Signal” comes on like a rave encountered in the open fields, building steam as it draws near until suddenly, without even realizing it, you’re deep inside and there’s nothing left of the landscape but strobing lights and throbbing low end. The contemplative “Abandon Window,” a cinematic sketch for piano and reverb, and the closing “Immunity,” a blissed-out collaboration with King Creosote, both provide welcome opportunities for rest and reflection, but the majority of Hopkins’ hour-long album — and it’s really meant to be heard in one sitting — is all about finding abandon inside awesomely proportioned sound worlds. Stylistically, both Four Tet and James Holden’s deconstructed techno are obvious influences, but what Hopkins brings to the table is a knack for fusing narrative arcs with an almost sculptural sense of form.