Jonas Kopp – Beyond The Hypnosis LP [TRESOR]
It has been a culmination of eight years, but one that the native Argentinian has patiently invested in. Since his first release back in 2006 on Pfirter‘s Mind Trip Music label, Jonas Kopp has steadily established himself as a formidable producer. Kopp’s versatility can be found between releases such as the techy ‘Deliric’ EP and the stomping ‘Starbust’ EP from 2013. His career success has been further validated by quality releases on labels such as DJ Deep‘s Deeply Rooted House, Stroboscopic Artefacts, and fast-rising Dutch label ARTS (expect a label feature in the foreseeable future).
The last couple of years have been particularly prolific for Kopp, and have yielded some of his most impressive works to date. 2014 seemed to be a point of maturity for the producer, where he not only delivered short-plays on Mulero‘s Warm Up Recordings and Liebing‘s vetted CLR imprint, but also put out an incredible 12″ – quite possibly a masterpiece – on rising Munich-based label Ilian Tape (one of our top labels of 2014 alongside Giegling) and his debut album ‘Beyond The Hypnosis’ signed onto the techno vanguard, Tresor.
Opening the album is the ominous ‘Ork’. The track’s mysterious pad swells lay out the landscape, dim and overcast. Like a nervous heartbeat, the kick pounds rhythmically over a stuttering drum line lurking below while the airy pads breathe malevolently in the shadows. The wayfaring nature of this opening number signals the beginning of our cosmic journey through space, establishing the premise from which the album is formed.
‘Ironcry’ circumvents the mysterious energy into something more driven and directed. As supernatural forces appear from the ether, galloping hats spit venomously onto of the undulating texture bubbling underneath. The mix is deceptively intimidating, enticing the awakening paranoia within. Kopp’s sonic palate here is brilliantly colourful, and his arrangement of these sounds is really effective.
Kopp takes it up another notch into ‘Planet MU’. We are done with the padded soundscapes and are given something more confrontational. The first couple of minutes establish a more mechanical feel, utilising the syncopated kick found in ‘Ork’ to displace the straight four-to-the-floor. The track manages to build consistently for almost seven minutes, drawing on the hats to dictate the progression.
‘Voices In My Head’ carries over the energy that was built in ‘Planet MU’, illustrated through the half-time bass hits and the brittle off-beat hat. The more obvious title here is perhaps more indicative of the subject matter at hand, the delayed claps resonating hazily while the insistent bass-line figure persists. Brilliantly executed polyrhythms here are first accentuated in the transition at one minute, where the hat interjects obtusely, apparently oblivious to the rising mantra of the opening riff. At the two minute mark things open up with the emergence of shimmering textures and a pedal note that suspends the harmony momentarily; immediately after, delayed claps erupt across the mix like paranoid reiterations dragging us ever deeper. Later a disruptive crash cymbal tumbles into the fray to see us into the outro. The mood of this one is something quite special, the combination of the relentless bass figure and sharp percussion mixes wonderfully with the sparkling harmonic components.
Things come into full swing with ‘Red Plented’, the title track to Kopp’s pre-LP release (which also included tracks ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Message From Solaris’). Here we have some straight-up techno; a roughed up low end rumbles over a clean kick, while another minimal riff sways over the top. The track develops logically, layering over with additional percussion such as the clap and off-beat hats. The texture is dense, with a number of underlying parts quietly ticking under the acid synth embellishments.
‘Circe’ marches onwards, reviving the stomping nature of ‘Ironcry’. Its rubbery synth hook flexes intimidatingly, while pads enter shortly after to add a glossy sheen over the mix. The incoming motif at 01:48 brings a retrospective feeling, coupled with the open hat hits and accompanying synth stabs. The pads and harmonic progression of the secondary bass-line are simultaneously reflective and forward-looking, as a suspending string line sounds quietly in the background. The syncopated hat adds that 90s big-room vibe, while the combination of percussion arrangement and nu-age synth material brings out Kopp’s Ilian Tape-styled sound. The notion of acceptance really brings the first half of this album to a lovely conclusion.
The following track, ‘Sea of Pluton’ allows us to take a breath, closing the previous narrative and opening up a new chapter. As the title would imply, here we dive in deeper, plunging to the lowest depths of consciousness. We are engulfed in blackness as the guiding moonlight fades with our descent. We return to the foreboding sentiment of opening track ‘Ork’, with its long-arching pads and bone-chilling ambience; though this time the absence of a beat and percussion could label this as an interlude. This illustrates Kopp’s acute attention to the album format, and understanding the importance of narrative and space – both sonic and intellectual. This is an odyssey of the mind, and what we find in this search cannot guarantee the exact answers we might hope for…
‘Sea of Pluton’ exercises Kopp’s ability for evocative soundscapes, with long reaching phrases and a certain mystique that brings to the surface those unanswered questions. The four and a half minute respite redirects our energy for the second phase of the album.
The tailing end of ‘Sea of Pluton’ arrives us at ‘Green Square’, a subterraneous bunker, littered with passageways and chambers. The bass-heavy kick is thunderous like moments before an approaching storm. Gushes of wind pick up, sweeping across as the repetitive hook continues on. One of the more minimal tracks on the album, the track revels in the absence of catchy melodic content, fortifying the album’s hypnotic premise. Dense and often-times oppressive textures characterise this piece, and marks an increasingly
The latter half of the album takes a more minimal, meditative, and in some ways more aloof stance. ‘Seven’ continues ‘Green Square‘s marching resolve, the trundling off-beat bleep accentuating the gliding cross rhythm with the kick. It marks a progression into more driving, heady territory within the album, becoming increasingly fixated and aloof. ‘Seven’ would work well in the build up to the apex of a set, the high-pitched beep a driving element in this track that can create that wonderful tension on the dance-floor.
Moving forward, Kopp raises the ante. ‘Tau Ceti’ might just be that peak-time number we were pining for after amping things up through ‘Green Square’ and ‘Seven’. However the track turns out to be more effective as a build up, as opposed to a tensional release. The track builds perpetually throughout, reaching its most intense toward the fourth minute. Animated textures and the minimal synth hook assure us another weapon for peak time damage.
It is arguably the climax of the LP, as Kopp soon brings things down again in ‘Alpheratz’. Once again Kopp shows his ease of hand traversing genres. The track is reflective and a little epic, and sees Kopp rounding things up on the album. Taking us on a breaks tip, we can hear clear elements of a late-90s vernacular, the little vinyl scrubs are a nice touch, while the break-beat coupled with the spacey synth lines and rhythmic nuances come together to create something progressive and emotional. What was so common with this period of music was this acceptance of a past and a brave but uncertain outlook into the future. Here, Kopp captures this brilliantly with the slow-moving bass-line and well-programmed percussion. There is a sense of catharsis that is imbued in the drifting melody, and the conclusive sentiment of this track sets us up for the final track on the album.
‘528Hz’ poignantly closes the album with four and a half minutes of pure electronic ambience. Cinematic and emotive, the track really comes into its own under the forlorn string lines and humming low end. The track doesn’t demand from the listener anything but of acceptance. The last two tracks can be seen as a couplet, where the melody in ‘528Hz’ is almost identical to the one found in ‘Alpheratz’, save for a slight rhythmic alteration. Doing this strengthens the conclusive tone at the end, and subsidence is found in the absence of drums or percussion in the final track.
Indeed the double entendre that can be read in this is our placement in time and space today. While purveyors of the old school still exert their influence, there is no arguing that over the last couple of years we have been entering a new era not just in music but in society also. The old ways are fading, yet our past is something that cannot be erased. The album stands alone in its completeness, yet, acknowledging it within its own context reveals the interesting junctures that we have encountered in recent times. Where is electronic dance music going? It’s almost impossible to tell. What is certain is that music will continue to chronicle our journey, and its sonic frequencies a guiding light in our spiritual evolution.
‘Beyond The Hypnosis’ is an enrapturing long-play that sees Kopp at his very best. It is evidently clear that the writing process has been carefully considered and contains an integrity and sincerity that makes this different from being ‘just another album’. While there are elements of classic styles, Kopp has done well to produce something evocative and nuanced and proves his depth as an artist. The album is a nice blend of dance-floor material and atmospheric probings that make the album balanced and well formed. As Kopp’s first full-length album it is a success, with some really quite brilliant moments found in ‘Ironcry’, ‘Voices In My Head’, and ‘Circe’, to name a few.
‘Beyond The Hypnosis’ was one of the most accomplished techno LPs to manifest in 2014 and we look forward to what 2015 brings to the rising Argentinian producer.