Jon Hopkins works in a shifting palette of organic and electronic sounds, building glitch-scratched beats out of jingling keys, stomped piano pedals and breath. “We Disappear” starts in the recognizable sounds of a key turning, a door slamming and footsteps, a mundane set of signifiers which morphs, gradually into an abstract sort of beat. It’s the human dissolving into auditory signal, experience melting into synapse flashes, an idealization that is not quite familiar, but feels as if it ought to be.
Hopkins has worked with Brian Eno, Coldplay and, most recently, with the British folk singer King Creosote on Diamond Mine, one of 2012’s most evocative and lovely albums. His work here is far more austere and cerebral than on Diamond Mine, and, paradoxically, more tethered to rhythm. “Collider”, Immunity’s long centerpiece pulses with jackhammer insistence, yet seems to inhabit an idealization of a dance floor, rather than the sweaty thing itself. That sense of Platonic ideal will be familiar to anyone who spent time with Diamond Mine, where the sound of voices, birds, clinking cutlery conjured not just a seaside town, but the idea of the sea itself.
Immunity pounds and pulses with pneumatic energy, its rhythmic tracks (“Collider” but also “Open Eye Signal”) gleaming with machine-precise hedonism. Yet things turn lyrical, humane and vulnerable, in the striking quieter moments, most notably pensive, piano-led “Abandon Window” and the luminous title track. A couple of times, Hopkins balances the two modes of being, slipping meditation and existential query into skritch-rhythmed “Form By Firelight” and blossoming euphoria into the blood-coursing propulsions of “Sun Harmonics.”
I like Immunity best in its quietest moments, in the creaking, scratching interstices of its title track (which may, in fairness, be because of the shreds of King Creosote’s singing woven into the music), and in the wistful chord-shifts of “Abandon Window.” The steam-roller rhythms of “Collider” feel over-thought and under-felt by contrast; by distilling physical sensation into the abstract, Hopkins seems to have filtered out something essential.
DOWNLOAD: “Collider” “Abandon Window”