[sic] Magazine

Scott Sinfield’s Albums Of 2013

1= Jon HopkinsImmunity

Jon Hopkins already had an enviable CV before the release of this, his fourth album. Immunity arguably transcends everything on it, in style. It is quite simply one of the finest electronic albums I have heard in my thirty-plus years of listening to music, successfully blending elements of techno, house and electronica with ambient mood pieces. Moreover, it is one of the most emotionally involving, sensual and warm electronic records I have had the pleasure of hearing.

Listening to Immunity on decent headphones truly reveals its qualities: it is meticulously crafted and textured, and one has to marvel at Hopkins’ imagination and skill as a composer and arranger. The album is wonderfully paced and sequenced, taking you on a journey that hurtles along elatedly, with occasional pauses for breath and reflection, before gracefully tailing into a blissful coda. The album then closes with the gorgeous title track featuring the soft brogue of Kenny Anderson. It’s hard (and largely pointless) to pick out highlights from an album that works so well as a whole, but “Open Eye Signal” and “Collider” are both breathless rushes that pull off the trick of almost sounding too short, even at eight and nine minutes long respectively, while “Abandon Window” is a stunningly beautiful piano-based piece that knocks much of what gets labelled “modern classical” into a cocked hat.

Immunity is a hugely impressive album that, like Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works , Orbital’s self-titled second album and Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children , sets a new benchmark for electronic music.

1= John GrantPale Green Ghosts



Around this time last year, the video for the title track from John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts appeared online. With its musical nods towards Crackdown -era Cabaret Voltaire and Dead Can Dance , it hinted at something of a reinvention. When the album arrived in March, it certainly delivered on this promise.

Pale Green Ghosts is a bravely diverse album. Recorded with Birgir Þórarinsson ( Gus Gus ) at the helm as producer and programmer, several tracks are underpinned by propulsive 4/4 beats and synthesizer sequences, whilst others are more ‘traditional’ piano or guitar led affairs. What makes the album so cohesive, and what really stands out for me, is John Grant’s voice and lyrics. His voice remains a rich and resonant baritone, whilst the lyrics are extraordinary. Candid, humorous, heart-breaking and poignant, often simultaneously, they pack a real emotional punch. This is lyric writing as therapy: Grant is shedding some serious baggage here and exorcising demons aplenty.

Uniting lyrical prowess with great tunes, inspired arrangements and that voice makes Pale Green Ghosts a formidable album. It is a record that I can already say with confidence I shall be returning to year after year.

The rest of the ten:

3. HoldenThe Inheritors
4. Time is a MountainTime is a Mountain
5. Arve HenriksenPlaces of Worship
6. Jan BangNarrative from the Subtropics
7. The NecksOpen
8. LowThe Invisible Way
9. MountainsCentralia
10. PreghostGhost Story