Following on from our reviews of the Mercury Prize nominees of 2013, I'm taking a look at this album, Immunity by Jon Hopkins. He's a record producer, mixer from Wimbledon who lists Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys as his first loves. He's an avid aficionado of all things electronica and has a clutch of critically acclaimed albums to his name, like Insides which I hope to review very soon. He also has collaborated with the noble artists like Imogen Heap, Brian Eno and Coldplay to add to a modest resume. His previous album, Diamond Mine was also up for the Mercury gong two years ago.
This nomination for one of the prestigious prizes going in the UK music industry has a lot to live up to, so is it worth the top billing it's apparently earned? Hmm, I am somewhat divided over it. If first impressions of an album are to be judged by its sleeve, then Immunity gets good marks, it's a striking and beautiful objet d'art. As for its content, this is where my reservations are.
There's no questioning the atmospheric direction that Mr Hopkins has chosen, in fact the first two tracks We Disappear and Open Eye Signal have good sense of rhythm and timing, while the minimalist piano tones on Breathe This Air has a melancholy feel to it. Collider feels spiky and like a well oiled machine, but the beats I don't enjoy. The problem here is that the timing gives me a feel of trying to sleep on a long haul flight and the cabin noise seems like it's trying to break your concentration, or if somebody has been fiddling with the volume controls constantly. Bit difficult to explain but I hope you get the gist of what I mean.
The atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful Abandon Window is chillout personified and there is a distant rolling keyboard that leaves us feeling a threat of storms brewing ahead, but for me Form By Firelight and Sun Harmonics are just too disjointed and they're too lengthy at six and twelve minutes respectively. There's none of this shift in pattern to really hold my attention. Some order is restored on the title track Immunity as the clockwork beats flow gently and complement well with the tinkling of the ivories.
This is my second listen to Immunity in as many days and it must be said that I'm still struggling to understand its theme. Many critics have lauded it to dizzy heights and maintain its accolade is richly deserved. I suppose so in a way, some tracks I have enjoyed, but some equally I feel don't feel adept to what could be an enlightening record if Jon Hopkins kept faith with some of the beats. It might age well and bring some much needed publicity to his fieldcraft but for now, like its peers, some albums right now are in the lap of the gods and the hands of the judges.
6 out of ten. Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.
Click on here for Jon Hopkins' official website
Buy Immunity here on Amazon
You can listen to his album here on Deezer