When Jon Hopkins made his only previous visit to South Florida, he was left off the bill for a November, 2008 show with tourmates Coldplay at the BankAtlantic Center. Not that anyone would have noticed.
To that point the London composer and synth experimentalist was best known, if he was known at all, for a luscious sound (found on his 2001 debut album “Opalescent” and 2004’s “Contact Note”) reminiscent of the lounge-y moodiness of Zero 7 (check out the first album’s “Elegiac”), though lacking that duo’s critical appreciation or record sales.
“They were extremely unheard. No one really connected with them at all,” Hopkins says of his first two albums. However, he characterizes the critical and commercial snub as beneficial, even “lucky.”
“It meant that I had to become proficient at other areas of music,” he says by phone from New York, “so I learned how to produce and I learned how to get into creating film scores, and I managed to make bigger work out of those things than I did out of the solo stuff.”
That work, especially his collaborations with tech-savvy musical adventurer Brian Eno, has informed the evolution of Hopkins’ sound from lounge to dance floor to somewhere more remote and ambitious.
On Thursday, Hopkins will introduce the audience at Bardot in Miami to his latest album, “Immunity,” a tour de force of modern mood music, with glittering pieces of sound stretched, crushed, looped and scattered into streams of unlikely beauty. “Immunity,” released in 2013, was nominated for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize, and Rolling Stone put Hopkins’ “gorgeous, glitchy, sexy, somber jams” at No. 4 on its 20 best dance albums of the year.
While your feet may move, “Immunity” also will nourish your brain synapses. Songs such as “Open Eye Signal” (which glistens with a techy sheen, but reverberates with the static of an old dashboard radio), “Collider” (a gradually awakening machine with snippets of human breathing) and the cinematic title track (piano paced by creaky floorboard?) combine the enigmatic pull of much well-crafted electronic music with an unexpected warmth.
Hopkins says the album, in particular “Open Eye Signal,” was guided by a classic Korg MS-20 analog monosynth found on eBay. He says the machine helped create “a sound that is really alive and really organic.”
Traveling by car for some dates on the tour has given Hopkins a chance to indulge his own taste in music that he finds relaxing for being so unlike his own. Between Boston and New York he listened to "Deerhunter, Yo La Tengo and all kind of guitar-y songs."
Hopkins describes his music as songs of himself: highly personal layerings and resamplings of sounds he’s already created over the past 15 years that will continue to get more dense each time he creates. He believes these “strange amalgamations” will find a perfect home in his Miami debut Thursday night.“Bardot has a good reputation for presenting the more experimental side of music,” Hopkins says. “A friend of mine, Gold Panda, played there really recently and said he had a great, great couple of shows, so I’m really looking forward to it.”