Fea­tures Jeremy Dutcher | Jon Hopkins

Exclaim! - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Stephen Carlick

FANS HAVE WAITED FIVE BREATH­LESS YEARS for Sin­gu­lar­ity, UK pro­ducer Jon Hopkins’ fifth full-length, but no one is more ex­cited for its May 4 re­lease date than Hopkins him­self. “It’s a nice feel­ing that peo­ple are go­ing to hear this, fi­nally,” he says. “Es­pe­cially af­ter all that work.”

Jon Hopkins’ break­through 2013 LP, Im­mu­nity, was a re­sound­ing suc­cess — his lu­mi­nous, deeply textured techno epic gar­nered him both univer­sal crit­i­cal ac­claim and a Mer­cury Prize nom­i­na­tion — but for Hopkins him­self, it came with un­fore­seen down­sides.

“My life changed rad­i­cally with the re­lease of that al­bum. For the first time, I was of­fi­cially in de­mand as a tour­ing artist, which meant end­less travel and these crazy ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. But it was very gru­elling and de­mand­ing. Af­ter a cou­ple of years of that, I found my­self burnt out and re­ally in need of some se­ri­ous re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.”

In the sum­mer of 2015, Hopkins took a break from writ­ing film scores, tour­ing and col­labo- rat­ing to fo­cus on him­self. He did what he calls “the clichéd ‘mu­si­cian in Cal­i­for­nia’ thing: started to med­i­tate, went to Joshua Tree.”

Even­tu­ally, the rest paid off. “New mu­si­cal ideas started form­ing in my head, and I found my­self start­ing to write again, which was re­ally ex­cit­ing. In or­der to truly ex­plore what I could write as a solo artist, I needed to shut the door on ev­ery­thing else for a bit.”

If there’s a defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of Hopkins’ glitchy, dy­namic com­po­si­tions, it’s their tex­tu­ral depth. And when he’s work­ing on a dead­line to com­plete a film score, “there isn’t re­ally any op­por­tu­nity for sonic ex­plo­ration. There’s no time to play around with a sound for six weeks.”

Com­po­si­tions like Sin­gu­lar­ity’s open­ing ti­tle track and first sin­gle “Emer­ald Rush” fea­ture such depth that, on head­phones, it can seem like the mu­sic is com­ing from in­side your head. Hopkins spreads out even fur­ther here than on Im­mu­nity, deftly bal­anc­ing his dark, brood­ing techno with lighter, airier pi­ano com­po­si­tions — and even choral mu­sic.

“Blend­ing techno into choral mu­sic over a few min­utes was a great chal­lenge,” Hopkins as­serts. “There’s no way you could just go straight from the ex­tremely dirty, gritty end­ing of ‘Ev­ery­thing Con­nected’ straight into choral mu­sic [on ‘Feel First Life’]. It had to feel or­ganic, like they were grow­ing from the same place.”

That “same place” pro­vides an im­por­tant the­matic cen­tre to Sin­gu­lar­ity. The al­bum ends and be­gins on the same note, an at­tempt by Hopkins to evoke “the infinite ex­pan­sion of the uni­verse and the even­tual con­trac­tion back to that point,” but on a more mi­cro­cos­mic scale; it’s about life cy­cles — not un­like Hopkins’ own re­turn to peace and bal­ance.

“Now that Sin­gu­lar­ity is done, I can look back on it, and it’s al­most like some sort of liv­ing thing that’s pu­ri­fy­ing it­self over the course of that hour. By the time it gets to the end, it’s in the ex­act op­po­site place, and yet it ends with the same sound — the infinite sim­plic­ity of that one note. I like that idea.”

“In or­der to ex­plore what I could write as a solo artist, I needed to shut the door on ev­ery­thing else.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.