Album Review: Immunity - Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins has quite the cv... The press often make much of his collaborations with Coldplay but to just focus on the fact that he's been busy adding the best bits to Middle England's finest would do him a great disservice. Hopkins first came to fame playing keyboards for the cultish female vocalist Imogen Heap, he has worked with David Holmes and his soundtrack to the (rather excellent) independent sci-fi movie Monsters was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award.

Hopkins also collaborated with Brian Eno on the frantic Small Craft On A Milk Sea, and it is Eno's work that this, Hopkins' fourth solo album proper, feels closest to. Immunity is an extradonairy accomplishment in both beauty and focus.

Immunity - Jon Hopkins

With an entrance that douses the listener in crafted distortion and beats fractured like glass Hopkins' new approach initially appears to be mostly focused on delivering experimental IDM. Yet within that first track, 'We Disappear', there is a nagging melodic refrain that wins through in the end, a somewhat distressed piano loop emerging from a frenetic whirlwind of electronics.

Immunity sounds something like a car crash slowed down to 1,000 times its original length, like a Justin Bieber record stretched to the point where it is transformed from abomination into something staggering, beautiful and pure. The early tracks are intense and rapid, the crunch of distorted rhythms echoing the crunch of metal on metal on 'Open Eye Signal'. Piano is once again weaved into 'Breathe This Air' in a way the feels like humanity and perhaps tinkling glass in amongst the broader chaos of a slamming four-four beat... But things gradually begin to slow down.

'Abandon Window' marks the entrance of Immunity's second half and second act. The turning point in this album is a cinematic moment of gently stumbling piano playing that deliberately plays with the timing to once again create something that sounds very alive. It's the rear-windscreen being removed and the friendly hands of a rescue worker - compassionate and warm, the piano is surrounded by ambience, layers of found sound and musique concrète. It sounds like Trent Reznor's best work with Atticus Ross.

The three tracks that follow 'Abandon Window' use it as a template, all being slower than the album's first half and letting melody come to the fore. 'Form By Firelight' combines shuffling beats and clicks with distant melodic keys that gently hammer out a fragmented melody. The title track closes the album with traces of a vocal performance and it creates a track that feels like a balance - it is more in time and seems more content than anything else here, and it closes the album on a high. Immunity is quite brilliant.

Immunity is out now, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links]. Preview via the video above or listen on Spotify: