17. Jon Hopkins - Singularity (Domino Records)
Jon Hopkins' first album in five year has an overwhelmingly dramatic introduction.
The title track opens with a single beautiful note, like the first glimpse of a sunrise. But it swiftly turns into a thunderous growl of guitars and keyboards giving way to a pounding percussive rhythm. It ushers in the first half of 'Singularity' - a beautifully sequenced selection of intelligent dance tracks that leads up to the overwhelmingly powerful 'Everything Connected'.
Before we reach there though there are a some scintillating experiences to be had. The lead single 'Emerald Rush' opens with a beautiful piano melody that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Nils Frahm album before heralding in the offbeat drums, pounding keyboards and sweet vocals. It’s a delerious achievement. The static noise and jittery percussion of Neon Pattern Drum sets the stage for (Hopkins own description) the 'techno bastard' that is 'Everything Connected'.... It’s a 10 and a half minute euphoric celebration. It’s overwhelming. Powerful and joyous.
Understandably and thankfully, the rest of 'Singularity' is a calmer affair. The muted piano melody and heavenly choral voices of 'Feel First Life' is an invitation to take an inward journey. The divine solitary piano of 'Echo Dissolve' is like a soothing reference to Erik Satie. The shuffling percussion returns on the 12 minute long 'Luminous Beings' which teases the ear with pretty, skipping keyboards. Finally, the minimal piano of 'Recovery' acts as an ambient balm before dissolving into.a haze and concluding the album on the same note that it began on, showing, very subtlety, how everything is connected.
photo: Steve Gullick