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February 2020
Review

Jon Hopkins - Singularity

It’s a beautiful piece when listened as a whole, but one that loses its power when taken in parts.
Jon Hopkins - Singularity
Published: 10:03 pm, May 03, 2018
It’s a beautiful piece when listened as a whole, but one that loses its power when taken in parts.

Label: Domino
Released: 4th May 2018
Rating: ★★★

Classical music has often been seen as a constant attempt to create new sounds, composing epic suites that tell stories or conjure moods without words. In this sense, electronic music innovators like Brian Eno, Nils Frahm and Jon Hopkins can be considered in a very similar school.

But where Eno and Frahm create sweeping electronic landscapes, Jon Hopkins prefers to take you on a journey. His latest album, 'Singularity', is one best devoured like a full classical suite. Everything here is linked, which is both the album’s strength and its downfall.

The opening cacophony of dissonant synths that kicks off the album sounds like the tuning of an orchestra preparing to play their big suite. As 'Singularity'’s pounding beat begins to fall apart, like rotting brick from a derelict building, a beautiful yet mournful piano strikes up. This is the battle between the urban and the natural; Hopkins’ own Koyaanisqatsi.

'Emerald Rush' and 'Neon Pattern Drum', compared to 'Singularity'’s harsh tone, still bang but in softer, more psychedelic ways as if escaping to the forest for a little trip.

The Frahm-esque 'Feel First Life', which blossoms from the simple piano to 15-part choral beauty, is breathtakingly haunting. 'Everything Connected' meanwhile feels like the intersection of these two worlds, the beauty of the old-world and the unrelenting, grinding brutality of the new.

But, through all that, 'Singularity'’s focus appears to be the power of possibility. For Hopkins personally, this is the possibility of what can happen if you open yourselves up to more things. When stuck in creative slump, he turned to meditation and unusual breathing exercises for inspiration.

For the listener, it’s the realisation that our lot in life isn’t set in stone. The abrasive urban environments of 'Singularity' and 'Luminous Beings' can give way to a glorious purity where everything becomes clearer if you just search for it.

It’s a beautiful piece when listened as a whole, but one that loses its power when taken in parts. Nothing particularly lends itself to monstrous dancefloor destruction. Where Immunity was equally as electrifying taken as a whole or as individual tracks, like the incredible 'Open Eye Signal', 'Singularity' is much more of an experience to be savoured from start to finish.

Set aside an hour, put your best headphones on and lose yourself in Hopkins’ psychedelic battle of concrete jungles and wooded havens. Chris Taylor

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