Jon Hopkins has previously been labeled, somewhat, as a Brian Eno protégé; mainly due to his collaborative work with the legendary musician/producer. With Immunity, there is a sense he’s also embodying the situational ethos present in Eno’s Ambient album series. This is an album which works in a plethora of scenarios: preparing the dinner, out for a run, sedate relaxation, pre-drinks; Ambient 3: Music for Everywhere.
Having had a busy few years navigating the peripheries of others’ work, (Imogen Heap, soundtrack work with Bat for Lashes, playing keyboards on Eno’s Small Craft On A Milk Sea, compositional duties on Coldplay’s Viva La Vida…) it seems that, now with his fourth album proper, the iron is very hot indeed. There is a sense that with this Domino release, and Mercury nomination in tow, his time is now.
Immunity should be the album that does not run the risk of being overshadowed by his impressive résumé. We Disappear is a bold opening statement. The first thing we hear is the sound of Hopkins entering his studio. From here, business is open and fragmented beats introduce themselves gradually before we have a riveting, full-sounding, melodic build. It finishes as aggressive yet beautiful techno; all in less than five minutes. This segues into the buzzing Open Eye Signal, which is sure to be amazing in a live setting. Collider is the centrepiece, pulsing along euphorically, bridging into the second half of the album – the more meditative of the two. Abandon Window is serene and not unlike the atmospheric textures Hopkins provided on the Diamond Mine EP with King Creosote in 2011. The record ends with the title track, providing a woozy comedown, the near ten minutes pass quickly.
Aside from being moved inside and out by this record, I can’t help but think of space. The sense of space afforded by his vast sonic patterns, the cosmic kind (it gets trippy) and also the space this music occupies today.
Immunity feels mainstream, clubby, suggesting Hopkins has the pop sensibility which will perhaps broaden the audience potential for himself and contemporaries like Oneohtrix Point Never, bridging the gap for a move into the neighbourhood of Fourtet, a few doors down to noisy neighbours Disclosure and just to the left of Mount Kimbie.
The landscape of the ‘solo artist’ is an ever-changing one, where now a piano prodigy and producer/technician can conjure all sorts of magic in the bedroom, and where a beautiful record like this will gain attention on its own merit. It is hard to imagine a release like this a decade ago, fighting its corner as an award nominee, against the retro-throwback singer singing a song – with words and everything. But times are different. This personal yet grandiose record, should be as accessible and make as much sense to people as anything else. That very accessibility may signal a broad influence on things to come. Hopkins may just take an important place in the long lineage of pioneering UK electronic music; Eno, The Orb, Richard D. James… Jon Hopkins? Seems likely.