Jon Hopkins - Asleep Versions - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jon Hopkins - Asleep Versions

by Justin Pearson Rating:6.5 Release Date:2014-11-10

My initial reaction upon hearing the four re-worked, stripped-down tracks that comprise Jon Hopkins' Asleep Versions EP was why? Is this really necessary?

Featuring tracks pulled off 2013's stunning Immunity, I was left wondering why anyone would want to experiement with an already solid work. I pretty much had that album on repeat for most of the year and became completely immersed in its endlessley fascinating, rich textures. The slow build of these tracks, culminating in a warm punch of layered emotion, had me reeling on every spin.

The new EP doesn't come close to the original, obviously, as these 'new' songs are merely skeletons without their firm skins, but it has its good moments, whether taken by itself as a completely separate work, or just an extension of the former. 'Open Eye Signal' here floats instead of moves. It hangs in the air for most of its running-time before slowly touching down and deflating with some nice piano in the last few minutes to anchor you to the bed or the couch, whichever Asleep Version you find yourself in as you listen.

The opening track 'Immunity' isn't that much different than the original besides its shorter length and guest artist King Creosote's vocals in front instead of in the background.The EP might have worked better as a whole without its inclusion, especially with its placement at the beginning, which doesn't really fit, even on a down-tempo collection such as this.

'Form by Firelight' features Raphaelle Standell guesting, while the only melodic remnant of the album version is the piano. Minus the warped bass, but with the addition of the ethereal, unintelligible vocals, Hopkins takes this drunk, hazy track and makes it sound almost completely unrecognizable. It now exists in a clear, yet dream-like, meditative state.

Similarly, 'Breathe This Air' is haunted only by the ghost of its piano, leaving all else to drift off into the ether. It does manage to resemble something mostly relating to the experience of sleep, but I don't mean that as a criticism. It's the kind of background noise you actually want to escape to.

While Asleep Versions succeeds at providing a calming, relaxing state of mind, it's missing the life that gave its predecessor a healthy pulse. Where Immunity was more concerned with a waking, inner life, this is the come-down from the high. I guess that can be seen either as a good thing or a bad thing, which is entirely up to the listener. What more can one expect from a 'remix' EP?

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