Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Dance & Electronic Albums

2. Jon Hopkins

Immunity begins like one of Jon Hopkins' live sets.

Rather than kicking off full-throttle by pushing a button, he begins with a single sound, and in front of your very eyes, turns it into a stuttering rhythm track. From there, he teases out a melody from blips and bloops. A subtly humming bassline becomes a throb. Suddenly, one is immersed entirely.

Hopkins' knack for songwriting borders on sleight of hand, as demonstrated throughout Immunity. The bass-squelching shimmy of "Open Eye Signal" begins as a muted, aqueous bump; "Breathe This Air" is a plaintive piano piece until stuttering house rhythms pull it gently to the dance floor; centrepiece "Collider" finds Hopkins stacking rhythmic blocks atop one another until the towering track is swaying wildly, threatening to collapse.

A fine balance of subgenre, mood and sound — is this downtempo, IDM, techno, house, or all of them at once? — achieved by Hopkins' delicate touch, makes Immunity impossible to categorize. He never overdoes things here, ensuring to temper moments of club-ready bombast with airy interludes like "Abandon Window" and the self-titled album closer, whose twinkling piano and quiet, clattering percussion bring a sense of resolution to the grandiose album.

On his fourth solo LP, Hopkins proves that electronic music needn't be an experiment in genre, rhythm or sound to be cerebral, nor mindless fun to be danceable. Immunity easily manages to be both. (Stephen Carlick)