Jon Hopkins - Singularity

by Justin Pearson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-04
Jon Hopkins - Singularity
Jon Hopkins - Singularity

Jon Hopkins is one of the finest electronic music producers working today. He's not only able to make this kind of music  interesting, he's also a master at controlling the ebb and flow of emotion that runs through his work. His songs peak at just the right time, and when they subside you feel the necessity of the come-down before the next splash of intensity hits you. Nothing exemplified this better than 2013's breakout album Immunity. It documented the experience of an epic night out and the morning after, underscoring how rapidly excitement and anticipation can reach its pinnacle before turning into somber reflection.

With Hopkins' latest effort Singularity, the highs and lows are still a focus, they're just drawn out and not as extreme as before. According to promo material for the album, "Singularity  explores the dissonance between dystopian urbanity and the green forest." Inspired by his recent interest in meditation, Hopkins decided to go for spontaneity this time around and trust his instinct.

Whether carefully constructed or trusting in the moment, Hopkins' instinct as a musician is almost always on point. The way he builds a song is architectural at times. Take album highlight 'Emerald Rush' for instance. He lays a structure with a heart-like beat and swirling effects that climb toward something bigger. Once the heavier, brick-ish beats take hold, there's a restraint that reveals a master at work, but there's also a sense of tension, as if what he's building might collapse if not properly nurtured with the right materials.

The aptly named 'Everything Connected' is classic Hopkins: bouncy, bubble-like bass and squelchy synths galore. Around the two minute mark, it gives way suddenly to a steady trance-like bass pattern with the synths washing over and seizing the moment. Once the track resumes, you can feel the push and pull of the city and nature in all its tug-of-war glory. In Hopkins' hands, though, you're reminded of the connectedness of people and the things around us, and the song lives up to his intent for the album.

The softer tracks on the album are meditative in nature, even so much so at times that they tend towards becoming ambient noise. Still, there's light touches here and there that remind you of the attention to detail Hopkins always gives to his music. It could be the subtle angelic vocals on 'Feel First Life', or the thrumming bass vibrating through 'C O S M.' Even album closer 'Recovery' has a soul all its own, although the melody barely changes.

From beginning to end, Singularity shows that an electronic album can also be a concept album, even if not in the traditional sense. There may not be words here, but there's lyricism aplenty, and Jon Hopkins proves once again that he's adept at pure expression - saying a lot out loud by tapping the quiet within.

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