Jon Hopkins The Hoxton, Toronto ON, November 21
Published Nov 22, 2013Jon Hopkins is reassuringly goofy. He grins wide and proud after each song. His skinny arms dangle from shoulders that could barely support a guitar. A man of warm reviews in cool places, Hopkins now has the stock to pack a mid-league venue like the Hoxton without calculating the lowest common denominator, and the effect is magical.
People expect crossover performers to be nothing less than magicians. A conductor of inconceivable micro-communications that occur within wires and hard drives, the producer is challenged to reduce in the crowd's mind an unnatural distance between his body and speakers, navigating stretches of binary to locate human connections, and Hopkins succeeds fantastically.
A seasoned pro, the Briton's performance is animated and electric; he exaggerates, lets us watch songs build, his jittery hands tap-dancing over a synth pad of cymbals and snares to brew up a cosmic headache. One neat trick is his de-emphasizing song transitions, thus imbuing each tune's conclusion with a sense of lucid elevation.
Hopkins intends to stun into submission, front-loading Immunity's bolshier cuts and interspersing a few more immediately visceral passages from his catalogue. Part of the producer's indie appeal is his patient structuring, its technique of tense escalation more redolent of post-rock than generic house. Another is his knack for translating undocumented internal processes into music; his specialty is the embodiment of primal thought transmitted between synapses, massively decelerated to seem both frantic and sullen.
But it's when both combine that his music electrifies. The set comprises complete atmospheric overhauls from his catalogue, dropping out various frequencies to craft an experience impeccably suited to dance crowds without sacrificing the record's insular nuance. After incorporating his introduction to Coldplay's "Life in Technicolour" as a sort of victory lap, Hopkins slammed the laptop lid closed and, once more, smiled the quietly goofy smile of a man in absolute harmony with fans, critics and his own massive ability.