The crowd for double-Mercury nominee Jon Hopkins’ biggest live show so far are itching to dance by the time he starts to play, a bit before midnight.
But as with last year’s Immunity LP, Hopkins sidesteps rave heat for thoughtfully constructed, emotionally ambivalent electronic music. He is even conflicted about digital technology, and raised a profile previously in the anonymous background of Brian Eno and Coldplay records with Diamond Mine, made with Fife folk artist King Creosote.
Hopkins is a typically lone, de-socialised dance music figure, triggering tonight’s music with spidery hand-flicks and pats of his console. But wheeling spotlights and big-screen videos mean initial melancholy chimes are matched with a woman’s lost, desperate face.
Tom Haines’s Gaspar Noe-style imagery for “Collider” accompanies organically grinding, 19th century-style industrial beats with warehouse rave sex, as a woman is flung about in violent transport, and swirls with the music to euphoric climax.
Textures spin and thicken around “Light Through the Veins”’s airily uplifting synth melody. Moments of warm beauty are knocked off-key, or followed by rioting, aggressive frequencies.
But as Hopkins leaves, arms in a champion’s salute, his music stays cool at heart.