There was plenty to love about the rhythms and melodies of Jon Hopkins’ Immunity, but its eight productions were especially captivating because of the depth and detail with which he constructed them. The Brian Eno protégé and collaborator allows no sample to go unaltered and no synth to go unprocessed; even the peripherals of Immunity are meticulous and substantial enough to reward closer listening. It’s fitting, then, that Hopkins revisits his material on the Asleep Versions EP, stripping it down and recontextualizing the subtleties in lush ambient compositions.
Starting with Immunity’s titular closer, Hopkins re-works four Immunity highlights in reverse order, taking care to dismantle the heavy crackle of beats which defined “Form by Firelight”, “Breathe This Air”, and “Open Eye Signal”. The space left over from his excavation remains unfilled, leaving simple piano chords, pattering percussion, field recordings, and vocal elements enough room to realize their full potential. You learn when listening to the new version of “Immunity” that maybe Scottish singer King Creosote‘s humbling vibrato should’ve always had a place at the forefront of Hopkins’ original mix.
Recorded in Mosfellsbær, Iceland (just outside of Reykjavik), Asleep Versions was conceived as a single piece of music, and it works best that way. Each section of the 25-minute recording flows seamlessly together, thanks largely to its shared wintry chill. Hopkins’ characteristic attention to detail feels further pronounced when he treats such subtle shifts in tone with austerity and drama. “Open Eye Signal (Asleep Version)” drifts on seven minutes of glacial pads and choral voices before a lone piano surfaces to give the EP its serene finale. All of which is preceded by the slow-coming flurry in “Breathe This Air (Asleep Version)”, sounding like a restrained Tim Hecker with its crystalline synth flicker, weighty bass drops, and smears of tonal texture. Maybe Icelandic winters just bring a certain kind of frozen majesty out of electronic producers.
Whether it’s the pap-pap-pap of a live xylophone or muffled thuds and brittle ticks hinting at a rhythmic structure, the record often feels haunted by Immunity‘s beats, like ghosts unreconciled with their forcible extraction. That quality does well to diversify what might’ve otherwise been a typical addition to the lineage of “ambient versions” in electronic music, and helps complement Hopkins’ brilliant second album by never trying to overshadow his original work.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1xkQpE5