There’s always been a twist with progressive music. Whether metal, jazz, rock, or electronic, the term applies to any one of these genres. The word ‘progressive’ is defined by, “Happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.” I literally Googled the word and found the definition, and that’s what came up. It fits like a puzzle piece perfectly into the concept of music, describing the electronic musician, Jon Hopkins goal with his newest album Immunity.
The English producer has already created a name for himself with a Mercury Prize nomination with singer-songwriter King Creosote in 2011 for Diamond Mine. What’s so interesting about Jon Hopkins is his connections to extremely renown artists, but he’s been able to fly under the radar for the past few years. Already working with Brian Eno, Coldplay, and Imogen Heap, Hopkins has been hiding up until the release of Immunity. His mixture of progressive-electronic and dance music is an art form that blends pretentious listeners with douche-bags. With the opening of “We Disappear”, the semi-soft drum loop resembles a take on a Burial beat, but with more of a traditional dance melody. The synthetic atmosphere glides and takes afloat while the loops jolts along with a steady piano riff. In Jon Hopkins fashion, the track only begins to grow before it reaches a tipping point and spills the structure into a mixing pot of noise.
His handle of sound is like a professional athlete scoring a simple goal. It’s only until we try out shooting or catching for the first time do we give credit to those who make a living off of it. These eight tracks aren’t overly complicated, but creating and meshing the ideas together is the talent. Most all of them carry bass-heavy undertones with a diversity of changes that happen so subtly, it’s hard to pick up on one listen. Think post-rock, but add in electronic affects and a dance atmosphere. That’s not even close to what Immunity is, but it gets the idea across that this is a completely different electronic album compared to others released this year. It resembles The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation in terms of song to song growth. The only track that takes away from this comparison is the beautifully destructive, “Abandoned Window”.
If Hopkins’ time with Imogen Heap taught him anything, it’s that simple means subtle. This track contains strictly piano chords and a slight ambient atmosphere in the background. That’s all it takes to create water works, and it’s nailed here on “Abandoned Window”. The lead into “Form By Firelight” carries the same simplicity, but transforms into a chaotic mess of crashing sounds. Distortion, thumbing bass clicks, clean and crisp keys, all these intense and emotional sounds from different genres blend to create a monstrosity of emotion. It’s overwhelming, and a lot to take in. Hopkins’ pulls on your heart a little and it’s just enough to open up the gate to confronting your emotions. Sad, happy, angry, he will humble you and take you for a journey of outlook.
Maybe I’m looking too deeply past the sounds? Immunity could possibly just be a great progressive-dance album, but it’s the situation you’re in while listening. I also know that Hopkins’ has had a habit of creating lasting impressions. Diamond Mine slipped past a lot of listeners back in 2011, but made it’s way to the Mercury Prize the same year. Immunity proved yet again how the English producer can manipulate emotions with music, letting us use it as a separation from our mediocre and eventful lives, because at the end of the day we all deal with the same problems. Possibly different magnitudes of the problem, but the root behind the feelings is the emotion. Hopkins knows that better than anyone.
Stream the full album here: