Review Summary: Jon Hopkins truly comes into his own.
Producing for Coldplay. Collaborating with Brian Eno. Scoring films. Over the course of the last decade, London-based producer Jon Hopkins has built himself an impressive resume. However, almost all of his work has been on the periphery of or in cooperation with other artists. This output has been admirable, but never enough to make a name for himself. Immunity changes all of that. It marks the point where Jon Hopkins stepped out from the wings and boldly took centre stage. It is the first true Jon Hopkins album, and coincidentally the finest album I have heard all year.
One could describe Immunity as an electronic album, but that term betrays both the warmth and diversity the album holds. Glitchy opener “We Disappear” is something of a red herring, suggesting an album much harsher than the one that follows. “Open Eye Signal” and “Breathe This Air” are far more representative of Immunity's sound, the former a deep house juggernaut that subtly and thrillingly evolves over eight minutes, the latter a brooding Burial-style dub interwoven with a melancholy piano refrain. Piano is regularly the focal point, such as on stunning instrumental “Abandon Window”, where a series of heartbreaking chords are set against the distant sound of fireworks. Despite several stops into quieter, more organic territory, Immunity never loses its momentum or focus.
Perhaps the album's greatest strength is its ability to both channel other artists and feel wholly unique. I could identify within Immunity qualities of a dozen other musicians – the mathematical precision of Autechre, the restlessness of Flying Lotus, the ethereality of Boards Of Canada – but never do these qualities feel plagiarised. Even at the album's most imitative, namely on the shamelessly Sigur Rós-like title track, Immunity is its own beast.
Immunity is both the best album I've heard in 2013, and the finest example of 'electronic' music I've come across in some time. I'd have to scour back several years to find an album that struck me as quite this engaging, this colourful, this perfect. There's a feeling Immunity gives me that few albums ever have, most potently on 12-minute rainforest odyssey “Sun Harmonics.” And that feeling is bliss.
Pretty good review. I take issue with you calling the title track "shamelessly Sigur Ros-eque" though. It's basically just a reprise of his work with King Creosote on Diamond Mine, only with the ambience and reverb ramped up.
It is definitely not the first "true Jon Hopkins album", although it definitely is the one that has had the most exposure. Good review though. Maybe one other point: I tend to like 5 star reviews to be a bit more hyperbolic.
@AliW1993 I found the title track to be very much like something off of ( ), even if Jon Hopkins has dabbled in that sound previously the similarity to Sigur Ros' sound is so strong, I'm calling it well-channeled influence.
@dcalderon I found a few spots on this, especially the first part of Form by Firelight, to sound like a slowed down Cosmogramma. Feel free to disagree
Pretty much disagree with the entire first paragraph (honestly, it kinda reads like you've just discovered Hopkins through the attention this particular album has received) but other than that it was a good read (even though your comparisons to Flylo and Autechre seem a little left of centre)
Immunity is both the best album I've heard in 2013, and the finest example of 'electronic' music I've come across in some time.
Just curious, but why put electronic music in quotes? It kinda reads like you don't really see it as being electronic music because of that; but that may just be me
I've known about Jon Hopkins for a while, I liked Small Craft on a Milk Sea and also his production/playing on Viva La Vida, back when I was something of a Coldplay fan. You're welcome not to agree with the FlyLo and Autechre comparisons
And 'electronic' was a reference to a line earlier in the review, "one could describe Immunity as an electronic album, but that term betrays both the warmth and diversity the album holds." I just wanted to express my reluctance to use the term, even if that is the genre this album exists in, because most people don't associate it with a release as warm and diverse as this one. I don't want readers to falsely assume this is a homogenous dance album
Many people do assume that, they'll see the word "electronic" and switch off instantly. My intent was to let those people know this isn't the album that their cynical (dare I say uninformed?) minds will leap to, I guess whether that translated well is up to you guys