Dreamin’ and Floatin’
On the cover of Asleep Versions, there’s a ghost-like body floating above the treeline, with stars and the dusky night sky filling the background. In most cases, there’s a relationship between an album and its cover art, and in Jon Hopkins’s case, it’s pretty obvious. Hopkins’ latest EP, Asleep Versions, consist of four tracks, that are dreamy “re-imaginings” of his earlier work, as Domino Records describes them. Jon Hopkins’ familiar, full sound and precise production are back, but this time his songs are sent up into the sky, cast in that layer between the pink clouds and the stars above.
But don’t think that this EP is slower, drowsier and drugged up. If anything it shines with clarity. Check the latter half of “Breathe This Air (Asleep Version)”; you hear all of the glittery sparkles reminiscent in some Passion Pit tracks – but more evidently, you hear traces of Braids and their bright, smooth production (Raphaelle Standelle-Preston of Braids contributed vocal tracks on this EP, as well as King Creosote).
The first two tracks, “Immunity (with King Creosote) and “Form By Firelight (with Raphaelle Standelle-Preston)” strip the beat-heavy sounds of their predecessors. On “Immunity”, Hopkins anchors the song down with piano keys and very occasional thumps of the bass. Creosote’s vocals sound like whispers in the wind – never present, as if always in passing. And that’s what Jon Hopkins does well on this EP – he harnesses this “dream-like” production and executes it perfectly. Essentially, he’s good at making his tracks actually sound like dreams – if they had a soundtrack.
“Form By Firelight” is more awake than most tracks, as Hopkins includes more frequent, anxious percussion, as if the dreamer is tossing and turning in bed, half asleep and half awake. And on his 11-minute redux of Open Eye Signal, Hopkins reaches a climax just before the 2:50 mark. We hear angelic voices and effects that sound like running water, some soundscape reminiscent of heaven, or some misty island paradise unfurling before our eyes. The song later descends into deeper sleep, after the voices fade away.
Asleep Versions sounds exactly as it’s described – it’s as if he took his beat-heavier, more “awake” songs, and put them to bed. These tracks are the dream-like noises Hopkins hears in his sleep.