Pablos Choice – Record of the Week 04/05/2018 – Jon Hopkins – Singularity
4th May 2018
Singularity has been receiving glowing reviews from the press… heres a few below.
The beneficent wizard of electronica embraces psychedelia on his fifth album
A thumping, mind-meltingly good night out was the subject of Jon Hopkins‘ Mercury-shortlisted 2013 album ‘Immunity‘. This time, on album five, the electronica mastermind wants you to have a blissful psychedelic experience, and he’s here to guide you through from beginning to end. Though ‘Singularity”s 62-minutes can get extremely heavy – Hopkins fondly calls its gargantuan centrepiece ‘Everything Connected’ a “massive techno bastard” – it’s still a near-perfect trip, and one that confirms Hopkins’ status as one of the genre’s brightest talents.
Like ‘Immunity’, this album is as much about contrast as anything else. “I love the idea of tracks starting off in one place and leaving us somewhere completely different,” he says. That’s exactly how the nine tracks on ‘Singularity’ operate, seamlessly passing the baton from our stunning first contact with Hopkins’ vibrant world (‘Singularity’) through to the industrial, juddering maw of its highs (‘Neon Pattern Drum’, ‘Everything Connected’) before drifting into a blossoming cosmos (‘Echo Dissolve’, ‘Luminous Beings’). By approaching the composition of this album from a strictly improvisational point of view, he’s once again disproven the idea that techno can’t sound entirely organic: ‘Singularity’ sounds alive.
The summer of 2013, for this writer at least, was completely owned by Jon Hopkins’ record Immunity and, perhaps weirdly, perhaps not, Sunbather by Deafheaven. Between the two of them, they had created the soundtrack of an entire season, possibly without even knowing, that many listeners felt were – justifiably – the two-standout records of that year.
So here we are, some five years removed and while Deafheaven have released a record between then and now (and have another due) Hopkins has been relatively quiet since the release of Immunity bar a few DJ appearances here and there. So what excitement it was to hear that Hopkins was finally releasing a follow-up to his landmark record, something many had been waiting for with bated breath.
Singularity, it would be fair to say, comes with a pretty high degree of hype, not only from fans but also Hopkins himself, who waxed lyrical about his advancements in the studio going into it. How noticeable those advancements are is debateable, but what seems irrefutable is the man’s consistency, as while this may not be a massive departure from Immunity, this is still such a satisfying sound half a decade later that it’s still pretty hard to find many faults with.
As the way we engage with music evolves, the trends within the music industry have begun to lean towards songs and hits rather than albums and their journeys. Jon Hopkins’ new album Singularity is a record that turns its back on trends. It is an album that deserves your full attention; your best headphones, speakers and sound systems.
Singularity was born out of frustration. Hopkins had his heart set on an concept of interlinking sounds throughout his initial writing process; a record that would bloom with beats and melodies like roots through the soil, but after becoming discouraged by the lack of freedom and spontaneity this style would allow him in his productions, he soon lost faith. Like many musicians before him, it was when Hopkins let go off his inhabitations and let his creativity flow naturally that this LP began to take shape.
Jon Hopkins’ aesthetic has been perfected over a series of albums that span the last two decades. It has evolved from the ambient sounds of 2001’s Opalescent, through the trip-hop influenced rhythms of Contact Note, and into the rumbling bass explosions and gemstone melodies that characterise 2013’s Immunity and his new solo album, Singularity.
This trajectory has gradually moved away from material that – in hindsight – sailed a little too close to the anonymous early-noughties chillout filler, and towards an otherworldly place that is crunching and cataclysmic on the one hand, deft and delicate on the other. Singularity continues this journey with galactic grandeur. The stuttering Emerald Rush is a beauty – a lolloping rhythm coupled with a melody miasma that oozes out of the speakers. The following track, Neon Pattern Drum, teases in but evolves into a shadowy techno rattler, before Everything Connected pushes the trance-rush button and the floor falls away for the raucous-but-celestial centrepiece of the album. The soft, meandering keys of Echo Dissolve, and the choral contentedness of Feel First Life provide a gentle counterpoint, before the barely audible Recovery returns the album to the note it began on. Singularity is the satisfying sound of an artist who – instead of petering out after a couple of early victories – is still perfecting his craft nearly two decades after he started.
Watch The Video for “Emerald Rush” Below