By: Jessica Nakamoto –
Time and time again, Jon Hopkins has found himself in good company. Whether it was working closely with big names such as Coldplay, Brian Eno, or King Creosote, there was a clear indication of talent in the works when it came to this British phenom. However, it wasn’t until the release of the 2013 LP, Immunity, that Hopkins seemed to step out of the shadows and come into his own. Hopkins laced Immunity with hypnotic tracks and provided a glimpse into the personal stamp Hopkins sought to leave on the world of electronic music. Now, five years later, knowing his esteemed pedigree and recent breakthrough, many held high hopes for Hopkins’ latest work.
Set for release today (May 4th) via Domino Records, Hopkins’ new LP, Singularity, delivers on the surrounding hype. Interestingly, the nine song collection sounds, in a reflective way, like Nirvana. That is, if the spirit world had synthesizers and an electronic beat. While the lack of words and crafty use of repeated synth patterns did in fact create a sense of rhythmic harmony, the tracks fit a more psychedelic versus meditative quality. There is a certain spontaneity about the music, and the songs seem to drag listeners along a journey from one area of Hopkins’ imagination to the next. While the title track, “Singularity” invites listeners into a tech-action-movie-like dystopian world with its excited electronic buzz, songs such as “Feel First Life” give the impression of an early morning or sunset beach with angelic choir sounds that permeate the music. This movement was intentional. As Hopkins stated, “These songs are like physical places to me – Ilove the idea of tracks starting off in one place and leaving us somewhere completely different. Luminous Beings drags us through bracken and brambles, leaving us lost and confused, scratched, bewildered – untilsuddenlyweburstintoaclearingandthereisnothing but space, clear air, stars”. Thus, the shifting personas that the songs embody prevent them from being stale tracks repeated on-loop at the nearest yoga studio. Rather, they are better suited as a complete experience upon themselves. Hopkins recommends evaluating the set from start to finish as one continuous body of work. In this sense, the listener can come full circle in their psychedelic journey through space and time.
Yet, criticism is unearthed when viewers take a step further in their experiential analysis. While Hopkins made note of the intentional blending of natural and electronic sounds, it’s far too easy to miss the call of the Scops Owl in the melody of “Recovery” or the recorded sounds of thunder in “Singularity”. There was some disappointment that some of these distinguishing and unique elements were not more identifiable and pronounced in the work.
On the other hand, maybe this requirement of deep listening and introspection is a smart way for Hopkins to ensure the commitment of fans to the journey and discovery embedded in his songs. As always, music such as these tracks are beautiful in their sense of questioning and the never-ending subjectivity of the unknown.
Recommended Tracks: Emerald Rush, Everything Connected, Luminous Beings