Jon Hopkins Singularity
Published May 01, 2018In contrast to its title, Jon Hopkins' fifth full-length is actually comprised of two distinct sides: from the titular opening track through the enormous, cathartic pinnacle of the ten-and-a-half-minute centrepiece "Everything Connected," it's a gritty, pummelling techno record; from "Feel First Life" through the album's piano coda "Recovery," it's an airier and more ambient journey.
Despite that division, Hopkins still balances darkness and light on a more microcosmic scale. At its climax, album highlight "Emerald Rush" features percussion so thunderous and with such friction it almost generates lightning, but it also begins with sweet, solitary piano notes and roaming, seemingly curious synth blips and burbles. And the album's coup de grâce might be the way Hopkins transitions from the towering heights of "Everything Connected" into "Feel First Life," bringing in choral voices one by one in such a subtle way that you don't even notice them until you're surrounded by a choir. It's one of many examples of Hopkins' absolute sonic mastery on an album full of them.
The album's two-sided construction does hamper it slightly, though. The second side's ambience absolutely glows throughout "Feel First Life" and "C O S M," but the piano-only "Echo Dissolve" feels too slight, and the throbbing, more uptempo "Luminous Beings," though beautiful, doesn't quite justify its 12-minute runtime. The nearly six-minute "Recovery" is also perhaps too long of a denouement.
Structural concerns aside, Singularity still finds Hopkins exploring sonic textures as deeply as ever. It's an album that, in its best moments, finds one of electronic music's great minds operating in peak form. (Domino)