Jon Hopkins

Decibel Proudly Presents:

Jon Hopkins

Teebs, Nordic Soul

Wed, July 23, 2014

9:00 pm

The Crocodile

Seattle, WA

$17 Adv.

This event is 21 and over

Jon Hopkins
Jon Hopkins
The first sound on Immunity is that of a key turning, unlocking the door into Jon Hopkins’ East London studio. It’s followed by the noise of the door slamming, then footsteps, and then finally the crisp, clipping rhythms and pulsating bass of ‘We Disappear’ emerge, signposting the most club-friendly music Hopkins’ has made to date. So begins a confident, dramatic record defined by this acute sense of physicality and place; a bold statement after the quiet, intimate Diamond Mine, his Mercury-nominated 2011 collaboration with King Creosote.

Until now, Jon Hopkins has been an elusive character, known to most as an expert producer, Ivor Novello-nominated composer of film scores, remixer and long term collaborator of Brian Eno and Coldplay. Yet as Hopkins freely admits, the fact that his solo albums to date (Opalescent, 2001; Contact Note, 2004; Insides, 2009) have been rather overshadowed by his work with others has meant that he’s been able to quietly develop his own identity, style and sound. Some of the ideas for Immunity have been in his mind for a long time, but there’s never been a rush to get them out there. It’s part of his mission to make music that feels as natural and unforced as possible. Yet from the moment you hear that key turn in the lock, Immunity announces itself as a powerful, multi-faceted beast, packed with the most aggressively dancefloor-focussed music Hopkins has ever made. Initial indications suggest his first foray into riffs and grooves is paying off. See first single from the album, ‘Open Eye Signal’, where a high pressure hiss gives way to burbling, insistent rhythm – a chrome express train accelerating through a sunlit landscape. The track got its first outing courtesy of Apparat at a DJ set in Japan on New Year’s Eve – an email from the German musician informing Hopkins that the room had erupted made for a great late Christmas present. Or ‘Breathe This Air’ with its graceful build and huge contrasts in mood via uppity rhythms, mournful piano notes, and stirring choral drones. And then there’s ‘Collider’, the album’s peak and the track that Hopkins says is the best he’s ever written. A ten minute techno monster, ‘Collider’ is underpinned by a constant, pounding bass pulse and a sinister texture that could be a harshly taken breath inside a gas mask. The towering central riff makes for a mournful, dystopian aesthetic, cinematic like black rain over neon. Yet the bleak euphoria that suggests a knees-up at the end of the world is only half the story – the compelling 4/4 rhythm and hint of a human vocal give this a massive twist halfway through.

Hopkins deliberately structured Immunity with this colossal banger in the middle. The whole album, therefore, works as an idealised soundtrack to a massive night out, peaking with a huge, lost-in-the-moment climax that feels like more than mere hedonism, warm endorphins swilling around the mind. This desire to create dancefloor-focussed music that was a step up from the slower tempo ambience of his previous solo albums was largely inspired by months spent in clubs and at festivals touring Insides. This gradual absorption of anything from the futuristic oddness found at LA’s Low End Theory club night (at which he has made several live appearances) to sterner European techno seeped out in the studio, shaping his mission to find new melodic routes through what were for him uncharted rhythmic territories. What makes Immunity so intriguing, however, is the methods Hopkins used to do this. A curse of contemporary clubbing is the audible strain of laptop-DJd and computer-made MP3s through powerful PA systems. Hopkins, on the other hand, went out of his way to make music that sounded like physically built things with layer upon layer of depth, a long way from the cold CGI artifice of much entirely computer-derived electronica. This desire to use physical, real-world sounds (anything from tapping a piano and drumming on the desk to a two quid tambourine and salt and pepper shakers) as the basis for many of Immunity’s rhythms also comes from Hopkins’ frustration with the ubiquity of certain synthetic drum machine samples in much contemporary dance music. In the corner of his studio sits the piano that he has had since he was eight-years-old, and the instrument features throughout the more nostalgic second half of Immunity… but not always as you’d expect – Hopkins also uses it to explore new methods of sound generation. On ‘Form By Firelight’, for example, the pedals provide the beat, and the strings are struck for chiming tones. Hopkins’ intent throughout was to be open to the world around him finding its way into the music, wherever he was. These happy moments of unintended creation included the reverse alarm of a lorry outside his Bow studio hitting a certain note during a recording session, serendipitously leading the chord sequence down a different path. The whistle and pop of fireworks emanating from the nearby Olympic Stadium were captured and slowed down, to sound like the echoes of a distant battle. Life and grit came from actively boosting things that aren’t supposed to be there, such as the rattle of window frame at every kick drum hit. This method of looking inside the music for interesting details to pull out and tricking the brain with technically incorrect recording methods might have most studio engineers tutting, but here helped to create a mangled reality. In Hopkins’ studio everything can be melodic, and nothing is wasted.

With this sense of place, Immunity is also a sketch of real experiences and memories absorbed by Hopkins over his thirty-three years. These he now tries to reflect and respond to in his music. This might be the quest to recapture the sound of a perfect chord made by water running through pipes in a New York hotel room, or the light reflecting off the surface of the Thames at certain times of the year, the random patterns of nature. This not only makes the album deeply personal to Hopkins, but is key to one of his main inspirations in recording it – the desire to slow down or alter the brainwaves to help us reach different states of mind, whether via hypnosis, music, or drugs.

Self-hypnosis is a longstanding personal fascination that Hopkins wanted to bring into his music, yet it was only on Immunity that he felt he had the technical ability to actually try and make it happen. The quality control that decided whether or not tracks were finished was to come into the studio in the morning, and if the track started sending him off into another world, it was done. Similarly, when it seemed that Immunity might be ready for mastering, Hopkins tested it by lying on the studio floor, hitting play, and seeing where his mind ended up. With a stated aim to see if this music might have a similar effect on those who encounter it, Immunity feels like the accompaniment to a journey of creativity, a trip inside Hopkins’ mind. That keys-in-the-lock recording that begins the album might usher the listener into the studio to be present at the moment of the music’s creation, but it has a counterpoint in the thrilling album closer, and the song that gives the album its name. ‘Immunity’ is built around rhythms that creak and mutter like the workings of an old watermill joined by a simple, elegiac piano part and indecipherable vocals by King Creosote, as if to paint an inverse to the techno tumult that dominates the album’s first half. The very natural-sounding rattle and dying piano notes at the record’s end show just how far we and Hopkins have come on one of the most human electronic albums you’ll hear this year.
Teebs
Teebs
As music from the Los Angeles area thrives and swells across the globe, one of its most beloved and deeply rooted members steps out with an LP full of infectious melodies, subtle hiphop and a kaleidoscope of sound. Music for the imagination. Ardour is the debut album by long time running My Hollow Drum, Dublab, and recent Brainfeeder artist, Teebs. Born in New York to Malawi and Barbados origins, Mtendere Mandowa, is a 23 year-old producer who bounced around the East Coast before finally planting his feet in the Southern California suburb of Chino Hills. A city known for its rolling hills and FBI ranking of one of the safest in the United States, Teebs developed his artistry right outside Los Angeles’ county line and just south of the Orange County beach community. Music may have come by accident, literally. A skateboard injury sidelined Teebs, which led to a concentration on art.

Through great focus and vision, Teebs made a name for himself as a skilled painter. His artwork found on canvases of all form, from walls to record covers, become imbued with vibrant color, energy, and shape.

From paint and brush, Teebs slowly found himself in the world of music making.

Early in his musical pursuits, Teebs joined a group of like-minded friends and producers who went by the name “My Hollow Drum”. Within this crew, he was able to build new ideas, share works and perfect his production craft. Intrigued with what was going on in Los Angeles evolving electronic scene, he never expected to fall directly into it.

He began interning for the acclaimed online radio stream, Dublab. This sparked his selfexpression, spirit and growth as an artist. Being around music, art and a creative atmosphere while brushing shoulders with the artists he admired from the area.

Teebs was accepted into the Red Bull Music Academy for their 2008 edition in Barcelona, Spain. Upon arrival back home, Teebs became even more focused on his music and art. A chance meeting with Flying Lotus led to his involvement and joining of the newly founded Brainfeeder collective. Having previously heard from local producers and DJs about this new up and comer, Lotus didn’t hesitate to take Teebs under his wing after hearing some of his earliest beats. Ardour began to bloom.

Ardour was made during two major periods of his life. Having just lost his job and with little to no money, Teebs moved into the same apartment complex as Flying Lotus and shared living quarters with another Brainfeeder affiliate, Samiyam. It was here that the beginning stages and one-half of Ardour were created. Before Teebs was aware his album was showing itself, his father who had been terminally ill, passed away. He moved back home and stopped making music.

Back home, Teebs finished where he left off. Ardour, two years in the making, is the result of Teebs’ journey thus far. More than the music, its the feeling he wants to convey. The idea of hearing something you really love, the moment you know something is really special. Flying Lotus said, “Teebs music sounds like an island vacation…The way Avatar looks”. What’s often said about Teebs’ sound is the warmth it has on the listener. It’s only fitting that a title like Ardour, which is defined as “great intensity and warmth” is used to represent this essential chapter to the ever-growing puzzle of Los Angeles.
Nordic Soul
Nordic Soul
Sean Horton aka Nordic Soul has long been enamored with artistic expression, the creation of music, and the technology that fuses it all together, much to the benefit and evolution of the world of electronic music and the underground culture that surrounds it. His healthy obsession began at the age of 11 with the gift of his first guitar. After attending a Plus 8 party in his hometown Detroit, Sean embraced underground electronic music. Today he is best known as founder, curator and president of the Decibel Festival in Seattle.

Beyond his work with Decibel, Sean is an expert deejay, producer and performer who has been turning out dance floors since the late 90s. His emotionally charged sets are infused with live instrumentation and ripe with the mélange of organic and synthesized tones, all riding on top of heavy bass lines. A lover of many musical styles, Nordic Soul’s interest and roots in techno, house, hip hop, jazz, soul, industrial and dub contribute to his diverse musical palette.

Since Nordic Soul's inception in 2002, he has shared the stage with an eclectic cross section of international talent, including Bassnectar, Moby, Major Lazer, Grimes, Boys Noize, Simian Mobile Disco, Modeselektor, Trentemoller, Four Tet, Moodymann, Green Velvet, Moderat, Gui Boratto, Monolake, Kevin Saunderson, Mount Kimbie, Matthew Dear, Theo Parrish and Motor City Drum Ensemble. Sean has also performed at several major festivals world-wide, including Dimensions (Croatia), MUTEK (Montreal), Communikey (Boulder) and Decibel (Seattle).
Venue Information:
The Crocodile
2200 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA, 98121
http://thecrocodile.com/index.html