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First Listen: Jon Hopkins, 'Immunity'

NPR icon by Stephen Thompson
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Steve Gullick

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For composer, remixer, producer, prolific collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Jon Hopkins, sound is a three-dimensional medium: It billows out in every direction, mixing artful throbs and animalistic thrusts that can be felt under the skin. But as driving as his beats can be — and on his new album Immunity, out June 4, they're plenty driving — Hopkins retains a gift for tear-jerking melody that takes an expressway to the listener's emotions.

Hopkins' gift for warm textures helped make a masterpiece of Diamond Mine, his 2011 collaboration with Scottish singer King Creosote; he used largely organic instrumentation to help paint an audio portrait of a coastal town full of dreamers and lost souls. Two of Immunity's eight songs — the 10-minute title track, featuring an ethereal guest vocal from Creosote, and the gorgeous "Abandon Window" — carry on in Diamond Mine's plaintively lovely tradition, while Immunity's remainder is given over to intense dance music that thumps and wobbles with insistence, aggression and grace.

For those who strongly favor one approach to the other, the juxtaposition can be jarring; Immunity is intended to mirror the feel of a night out, and it captures both highs and lows. But in Hopkins' living, breathing world of sound, beauty and beats are always free to commingle in ways that move, in every sense of the word.

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