out now: Jon Hopkins – Immunity [Domino Records]

 

Artist:
Jon Hopkins

 

Title:
Immunity

 

Label:
Domino Records

 

Cat#:
WIGCD298 | WIGLP298

 

Release Date:
03rd June 2013

 

Format:
CD, vinyl & digital

 

Tracklist:
01)
We Disappear

02)
Open Eye Signal

03)
Breathe This Air

04)
Collider

05)
Abandon Window

06)
Form By Firelight

07)
Sun Harmonics

08)
Immunity

 

Info (English):
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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. ‘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.

 

Info (German):
Schon die ersten Töne von Jon Hopkins neuem Album IMMUNITY katapultie-ren uns in andere Sphären und genau so wollte es der 33-Jährige Jon(athan) Hopkins: In eine andere Welt soll der Hörer von IMMUNITY möglichst schnell abtauchen, im besten Fall in die des Produzenten selbst. Der Sound ist es, der IMMUNITY als das clubtauglichste Album kennzeichnet, das Hopkins bis dato aufgenommen hat. Ein fettes Statement nach dem Mercury-Prize-nominierten “Diamond Mine”, einer Kollaboration mit King Creosote, die doch so ganz anders war.

Jon Hopkins ist nur wenigen ein geläufiger Name, denn er arbeitet sowohl als Komponist für Soundtracks, wie den Ivor Novello-nominierten Score von Mons-ters, wie auch als Produzent, etwa für Coldplay und Brian Eno, eher im Hinter-grund und Hopkins gesteht ein, dass seine Arbeit mit anderen Künstlern seine Soloalben (Opalescent, 2001; Contact Note, 2004; Insides, 2009) bislang deut-lich überschattet haben. Dies gab ihm jedoch die Möglichkeit, seine eigene Identität, seinen Sound und seinen Stil ganz allmählich zu entwickeln. So schwirren einige der Ideen für IMMUNITY schon seit Jahren in Hopkins Kopf herum. Jetzt endlich nutzt er die Gelegenheit, sie mit uns zu teilen.

Vom ersten Moment, in dem die Bässe leise aus den Boxen blubbern, es aus allen Ecken britzelt, glucks, zirpt, blingt, schlurft, schleift und atmet, entwickelt sich IMMUNITY zu einem starken und vielschichtigen Album, vollgepackt mit den besten Sounds, die Hopkins je produziert hat. Vor allem “Open Eye Sig-nal” ist ein Track, der Hopkins den Ritterschlag verleiht : Kurz nach dem Jah-reswechsel erhielt er eine Mail von Sascha Ring alias Apparat, der ihm berich-tete, dass die Gäste einer japanischen Silvesterfeier nahezu ausgerastet sei-en, als er den Song kurz nach Mitternacht spielte. Aber auch nach “Open Eye Signal” verliert das Album nicht an Intensität, energetisch geht es immer weiter bergauf, bis zu einem imaginären Gipfel. “Collider” gibt sich monton, scheppernd und drängend. Ein düsterer Track mit beklemmender und doch euphorisierender Wirkung. Ein phantastischer Kontrast zum darauf folgenden “Abandon Window”, das den Beginn eines ruhigeren, wieder an Score erin-nernden, Teil des Albums markiert.

Was IMMUNITY so faszinierend macht ist die Methode, die Hopkins beim Pro-duzieren verwendet. Schicht für Schicht baut er die Sounds auf und mischt sie mit Geräuschen aus dem Alltag. Herausgekommen ist ein Sound, der echter und rauher klingt, als alles was sonst aus den Boxen eines Nachtclubs dröh-nen könnte. Das Feuerwerk im nahen Olympiastadion wurde ebenso Teil des Albums wie ein am Studio vorbeifahrender LKW, plätscherndes Wasser in ei-nem New Yorker Hotelzimmer oder Lichtreflektionen auf der Wasseroberflä-che der Themse in London. Die Kombination aus komponierten Arrangements und dem was um ihn herum geschieht, ist einzigartig. Für Hopkins ist alles Me-lodie, nichts ist überflüssig. Das macht das Album nicht nur sehr intim und per-sönlich, es ist auch der Schlüssel zum Verständnis der Aufnahmen: Hopkins wollte seinen Bewusstseinszustand statt durch Hypnose oder Drogen mit Musik verändern. Mit Selbsthypnose hatte er bereits seine Erfahrungen gemacht, der Trip sollte auf IMMUNITY aus dem Geiste der Musik wiederholen. Jeden Morgen, wenn Hopkins ins Studio kam, hörte er sich die Tracks an und wenn die Sounds ihn in eine andere Welt beförderten, war es gut. Ganze Tage ver-brachte er auf dem Fußboden des Studios und reiste durch die Tracks, bevor sie final gemastert wurden. Man kann das leicht zu Hause nachmachen und bemerkt sehr schnell, von was die Rede ist.

Einen krönenden Abschluss eines nichts weniger als bewusstseinserweitern-dem Album ist übrigens der Track “Immunity”, der dem Album zu recht seinen Namen gab. Den Track hat Hopkins mit einem elegischen Piano und zärtlichs-tem Gesang von King Creosote um das Klappern und Knarren einer knorrigen Wassermühle arrangiert. Techno kann auch traurig sein, vor allem dort, wo dieses wundervolle Album seine letzten perlenden, knarrenden, gluckernden, schluchzenden, flirrenden Töne aushaucht. Großes Kino Mr. Hopkins. Wir ver-beugen uns tief!

 

Trailer & Listen:

 

Full Track Streaming:
“Open Eye Signal”

“Breathe This Air” (feat. Purity Ring)

 

Video:
“Open Eye Signal”

“Collider”

 

Free Download:
“Open Eye Signal (Nosaj Thing Remix)”

 

Special:
“FACT mix 388”

 

Buy CD:
Domino Shop
Amazon GER
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IT
Rough Trade
WOM
Juno
RecordStore
more soon

 

Buy Vinyl:
Domino Shop
Amazon GER
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IT
Rough Trade
WOM
Juno
RecordStore
more soon

 

Buy Digital:
Domino Shop
iTunes
7Digital
Amazon
JunoDownload
Beatport
more soon

 

Websites:
Jon Hopkins
Jon Hopkins @ Facebook
Domino Records
Domino Records @ Facebook
Domino Germany @ Facebook

 

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