Review Summary: Full circle.
In concept, Singularity
is humble. Allegedly inspired by an exceptional, mind-altering night, the album expands outward with the same incorporeal logic of Hopkins’ watershed, Immunity
. Fans of linear balance might be off-put; the album’s sequence is an upwards arch. Gradually, we find ourselves less tethered to the physical and more attuned to the spiritual. A song like “Neon Pattern Drum” shuffles with an acute physicality, controlled and surefooted. The stabs are thoughtful and deliberate, and the pulse is consistent. Later moments, like “Echo Dissolve”, are the aftermath of disintegration. (This particular song resembles what might hang in the air after an explosion, had the listener not been aware of the fact that it was a destructive force that preceded it.) I have admiration for the 'one-night' movie format, wherein entire lifetimes of experiences and developments can be condensed into one defining 24-hour (or less) experience. Think: The Breakfast Club
, Groundhog Day
, American Graffiti
sort of feels like the inverse, where one night is the spark of the narrative, not the summation.
This sentiment is evident in the first moment, a drone which Hopkins himself describes as “the one note from which everything grows.” The opener, despite the cadence and activity, is bleak, and this bleakness is easily missed (I didn’t catch wind of it until several listens, and was only certain of it upon reading Hopkins’ description of its destructive properties). The song grows, evolves, thrives, but then succumbs to cold technicism that inadvertently erases its humanity. Thematically, there are traces of this strewn throughout the first half. Even the danceable “Everything Connected”, whose final minute underscores a stark anxiety, captures a sort of fleeting pleasure that devolves into something suddenly sober and uncomfortable. We get this ongoing theme of surrender, where our creations serve to dictate our ambitions - or, lack thereof. Enter: the second half.
From “Feel First Life” to the album’s end, the music is less earthbound. Space-themed ambient has the potential to be more inventive than it often is, and “C O S M” probably succeeds in how it treats the extraterrestrial as a meditative state rather than a romanticized physical exploration. If Brian Eno’s 1977 release Before and After Science
saw humanity dwindle with the onset of robots (or perhaps become them), Singularity
sees a new consciousness, a sort of rebellious reorienting of the psychedelic movement. Not just liberating oneself from the constraints of social order, but of a perceived threat of a dehumanizing technological revolution. Closer “Recovery” is understated, with tonally soothing piano and subtle nature sounds that wash away that muck and murk left over from previous moments. It repositions the album, accentuating the highs and lows of the journey and ending much as it started.
In self-reflection, Hopkins deconstructs Singularity
; for all its avenues, detours, desperate reaches and anxious retreats, true inner peace rests on a foundation of simplicity. A modest concept, often taken for granted.