2nd March | Marble Factory
Singularity – the showstopping, 2018 record of the year contender from Jon Hopkins – is an innate and seamless album that was less informed, more instinctively built by Hopkins’ investigation into the natural connection we have with our planet. In his desire to explore not only the environment of our world and the ingrained psychedelic essence that emanates from its pores, Hopkins found the capacity to make the record he’s been waiting his whole career to make.
Now, as The Marble Factory is crammed to capacity, Hopkins has to explore this live, and does so with hugely gratifying aplomb. From the off, all the cascading, worldly elements of Singularity come to the fore. Two performers enter the stage, drawing illuminative batons and filling the air with a personal and intimate light show of their own in front of the bright, idyllic visuals that devour Hopkins and that either mesmerise or utterly enliven the crowd.
The enveloping bass and emotional, spectral synths enrapture and pulsate in equal measure. The aforementioned title track is a warm welcome before ‘Emerald Rush’ eviscerates the crowd in a wash of sub-level bass as Hopkins jilts with the rhythm, punching the air with authority.
The set is conceptual and considered, like all of Hopkins’ work. The visuals are integral, a kaleidoscopic array of colours and narratives that feed into the human concept. Skaters travel across deserted towns, hinting at at a disordered balance of dystopia and freedom, a calm release amongst the almost caustic sound that rattles the Marble Factory to its core.
It’s breathtaking to see the way in which Hopkins crafts pulsating, industrial beats and warbling synths. It’s naturally engrossing while being physically moving from the sheer power of the sound. It’s pleasing to see Hopkins piece such a set together, using the foundations of the record as a template to transfigure and mould its identity. It stretches the extremes of its formation to fit comfortably into the uncomfortable yet rejuvenating setting of a live show.
The way in which he crafts such a vivid picture within a broad electronic palette is also testament to Hopkins’ musicianship and perception. The second hour enters into a heavier, more intense phase, as early-morning Balearic techno gives way to a harsher, more brisk sound. Hopkins releases tripping, water-drip-like vibraphone and found sound samples into the space, before the star-shaping images of the album introduce the vast, unexplored notions of our world and astrology as a whole.
This is Hopkins at his more considered and ambient, taking every opportunity to wander before entering another embracing euphoric stage. His adulation and infatuation with light is evident, and the way in which he channels this not only into his visuals but his music is wondrous. As Hopkins returns, he enters another cascading, slowly erupting stage, the beats percolating and fragmenting. It shows both sides of Hopkins character, the more considered, measured side of Singularity mixed in with the heavy-hitting, visceral escape of his techno sets.
The visuals craft a multi-coloured, spectral heart-shaped object and mellow guitar strings fill the room, as if a reflection on humanity and technology moulding together, something that feels so invested within his music and our lives as a whole. It thus signals the end of a broad and utterly engaging set from one of electronic music’s leading lights.
See the video for ‘Feel First Life’ here: