My fascination with Jon Hopkins all started with “Light Through The Veins,” a rich and colorful electronic track from the artist’s 2009 album, Insides, but which rose to fame for its sampling in Coldplay’s “Life In Technicolor.” Admittedly, I might not have discovered the song had it not been for Coldplay or the fact that iTunes released it for free back in 2009, but regardless of how I found it, the track opened me up to a unique vision of electronic music, one in which production and composition played integral parts in the tapping into of the human psyche. These weren’t just eight-bar rhythms I could repeat over and over again.
Hopkins’ fourth album — this year’s Immunity — completely upped the ante in that regard. He produced a delicate blend of hard-hitting dance tunes and lush, introspective ambience that truly brought out enough of a human element to become one of our top albums of 2013. Clearly, I wanted to see what Hopkins was like in a live setting, so I headed to the Echoplex last Saturday to catch his hour-long set. Safe to say, he did not disappoint.
Photos by David Fisch
Hopkins’ performance was in support of Immunity, so most of the tracks from that album were woven into the set. He kicked it off with “Breathe This Air,” which is now better known as the track that features Purity Ring and was more than likely performed alongside the duo when he toured with them earlier this year (I did not attend that concert). This time around the track did not feature any vocals from them, but the ambient and breathy structure grooved nicely into “Open Eye Signal.”
“Collider” was note-for-note perfect. I could just be saying that because it’s arguably my favorite track from the new album, but even viewed as a standalone outside of Immunity, it’s a wonderfully-produced piece of acid house that, though 10 minutes long, you simply don’t want to end. It didn’t look like Hopkins wanted it to either, as he worked and bobbed intensely to each of the track’s many evolutions.
Having watched opener Nathan Fake’s set earlier in the night, you could tell which of the acts really had a knack for composition. Not that Nathan Fake’s set wasn’t great, but Jon Hopkins knows when he has a fantastic beat and runs with it, allowing it to play out until it’s run its course and flows nicely into an entirely new song. He also had a better understanding of when to play which tracks to his audience, working his set like a slow burn that started with a crowd in awe and ended with some intense and electrifying techno that turned the room into a busy dance floor.
Of course, Hopkins performed “Light Through The Veins,” which was as pure as the day I first listened to it. It capped off such an excellent year of electronic music that I left the Echoplex that night reminiscing more about the year than the night itself. But that’s kind of how Hopkins’ music works. It implants the idea that music is a living, breathing thing, and with his penchant for grasping both techno and ambience, it envelops both the emotions of the moment and the moments that we wish to ponder each and everyday. I think it’s safe to say that I can’t wait to see Hopkins again and to listen to his follow up to Immunity.
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