I will never forget the first time I heard 'Open Eye Signal', the second track on UK based producer and composer Jon Hopkins’ seminal 2013 album Immunity. I was in my friend’s basement, attending a fun little DIY rave of sorts. In between your traditional club stompers, the massive piece of music blasted over the speakers, causing the other tunes which came both before and after to pale in comparison. The sheer size and magnitude of the sounds found within the tune are breathtaking— the repetitive, driving bass line resting under the delicate, ethereal pads have the power to make people feel just as easily and naturally as it can make them dance. I specifically remember pushing my way to the front of the crowd and demanding the track from the DJ. Shortly after, I conjured a little excuse to leave the party and drove around for a few hours listening to Immunity several times in full. Since that day, I’ve listened to the album countless times, and it has remained massively influential for me in both my own productions and overall music taste.

Considering this, it’s safe to say I have been anxiously awaiting Hopkins’ new album ever since it was announced a couple years ago. Considering he remains a rather reclusive presence, not much information surfaced regarding the record, which, of course, just added to my sense of eagerness and intrigue. When he posted on social media a few months ago that there was a set release date, I geared up, went back through and binged his back catalog, and did everything in my power to get my hands on the release. The leading single, “Emerald Rush” had me pumped— ambient soundscapes met abrasive low-end, culminating in a sound which oozed of power from every corner.

I read that Singularity is meant to be fully consumed in a single sitting, so I did exactly that. Domino stated that “Singularity explores the dissonance between dystopian urbanity and the green forest. It is a journey that returns to where it began – from the opening note of foreboding to the final sound of acceptance,” so I tried to take as visual of an approach as I could with the album, attempting to not just listen to the sounds emanating from the speakers but also attempt to picture them and let them tell their story.

Singularity opens up eponymously, with perhaps the darkest track on the album. Metallic, harsh drones coated in reverb meet pulsating, rather warm synthetic arpeggios, lulling one into a trance-like state. 'Singularity' does an excellent job setting the tone for the album, as it possesses the two integral sides of Hopkins’ musical approach; it is both cinematic and club-ready. This track does exactly what made me fall in love with Hopkins’ sound in the first place— it makes me want to think just as much as it makes me want to jump around the room.

After the epic ending of 'Singularity' we are met with the lead single, 'Emerald Rush', which I think is perhaps the strongest piece of music on the album. Glistening piano melodies meet wandering, analog arpeggios which in turn meet distorted synth stabs. Once the four-on-the-floor kicks in with the massive, thunderous kick drum, we are greeted with mesmerizing chord chops. Shortly after, an ambiguous, almost angelic vocal creeps in, giving the piece the ambience it requires. Although this track is largely electronic, it has quite a symphonic feel.

Following 'Emerald Rush', 'Neon Pattern Drum' opens with an explosive sub-bass coated by white noise and synthetic drones. Perhaps the most proper club track on the record, I love how everything sounds like it is breaking, which in turn gives the song a really raw emotional appeal. The industrial lower end in combination with the ethereal top-end results in an anthemic club banger.

Unfortunately, I do feel the album took quite a dip after the first three tracks. I’m not sure if it’s fair to say some of these songs, or at least moments within them, are cheesy, however I do feel comfortable saying that a lot of the movements and progressions within Singularity are a bit too obvious and dramatic, which in turn makes them fall rather flat. In regards to sound-design and production, however, each track is executed to near-perfection. Even the moments which I found, compositionally speaking, to lack nuance and edge sounded great, however I do not think that makes up for the complaints which I just mentioned. For example, the bridge in “Everything Connected” sounds straight out of a Coldplay record (which makes sense, given Hopkins’ history with the band). Additionally, I found a lot of the sequences and melodies on Singularity to be quite predictable, which in turn took away from the fun of the record, as there weren't a lot of moments where I was taken by surprise and thrown off my feet.

On this note, 'Luminous Beings', although pleasant, sounds more like a caricature of Hopkins’ music than anything. Again, thick bass lines meet piano and arpeggios, but when there are three or four other tracks on the same record which utilize similar compositional techniques and production styles, it feels a bit redundant. The next track, 'Recovery', which was clearly intended to be the delicate, expressive closer, lacks the emotional appeal necessary to pull the listener in, sounding more like a sonic tangent than anything.

Singularity would be a dependable record to show someone in the process of discovering the wider world of electronic music, as it is exceptionally accessible, yet at the same time I feel that that same sense of accessibility and friendliness is what is wrong with it. I quite enjoy when Hopkins takes risks with his music, and, after listening to both, I feel that he embraced that side of himself much more with Immunity than Singularity.