Jon Hopkins is a British producer, film scorer and frequent collaborator signed to boutique London label Just Music since the early 2000s. In a nutshell, he’s what you get when a musical prodigy becomes a computer whiz. Pianist by training, he reportedly excelled in competition, winning enough prize funding to purchase quality keyboards and pursue his budding interest in electronic music. Tip-toeing into the professional music scene, he was hired at age 17 as a keyboardist / sampler for Imogen Heap’s 1998 tour. He subsequently released his debut LP “Opalescent”, a pillow-soft blend of guitar, piano, and synths melded together into a warm potion of electro-acoustics. Hopkins’ work began turning heads, leading to his recruitment as a studio producer for Coldplay, album collaborator with Brian Eno, and film score writer of “Monsters” and Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones”, to name a few.
I came to know Jon Hopkins’ music because of the overwhelming positive regard for his 2013 break-out LP “Immunity”. Being largely ignorant to the world around me, I’d never heard of this “Jon Hopkins” character, and decided to see what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that, with perhaps the exception of Daft Punk’s “Discovery”, I’ve never been so profoundly impacted by the opening tracks of any EDM album. From the first moments of “Immunity” (particularly “Open Eye Signal”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=va4OyeQHbr8), a living, surging being crawls out of the speakers, clasps both hands around your throat and stares you right in the face. It’s an ornery beast, ruthless and incessant, with skull-crushing strength and and hypnotically repetitive brutality that carries you into a black sky and then drops you head first towards Earth. This onslaught lasts for the first half of the album, after which Hopkins kindly lets the fractures and bruises heal by serenading the listener with enough heavenly trance and ambiance that one might consider forgiveness for the beating.
All in all, Hopkins has a gigantic repertoire of excellent music, but I particularly recommend 2013’s “Immunity”, 2009’s “Insides” and his aforementioned debut “Opalescent”. You’ll find each album has a remarkable range of styles, motifs, and moods organized into an incredibly cohesive and coherent story. No stranger to remixes and reinterpretations, I’ve grown quite fond of his take on Nosaj Thing’s “Us” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75mFKI9gK-0), as well as his collaboration with Purity Ring frontwoman Megan James (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgPYnss1wMc). The guy even conjured a wake-up song to gently pull your consciousness back into the mire of existence (free download at https://soundcloud.com/bbcradio1/jon-hopkins-alarm-call-for-rob-da-bank-free-download). Update: Hopkins’ new release “Asleep Versions” is an EP featuring minimalist reworks of 4 tracks from “Immunity”. It sounds exactly as it looks – a wispy apparition floating amongst the stars (try “Form By Firelight (with Raphaelle Standelle): http://youtu.be/kMZXeArxex0).
Favourite track: Collider (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2CXrvcsbMk)… The sonic equivalent of a comminuted facial fracture.