on 1 October 2013
Excellent well-structured downtempo album with a lot of new wave influences that invokes Art of Noise and Cabaret Voltaire. Very cinematic and fits in with Lopatin's previous work. Minor complaint is the shortness of some of the pieces, 'He She' and 'Cyro' appear almost incidental. 'Still Life' is a mesmerising sound collage. On the whole a very interesting listening experience.
on 16 December 2013
With each successive album Daniel Lopatin proves himself to be the most interesting album-orientated producer making music today. Possibly the most interesting musician in general.
When I first heard his music (probably 2009ish) I thought he was a guy with a very nice synth collection, who knew his way around an arpeggiator and could fuse that Tangerine Dream/Vangelis/Steve Roach axis nicely with the hypnagogic sound that was popular at the time. Then with Returnal he went one step further, and after the initial burst of rocket blast noise, showed he had found a new, more focussed sound. The washes of twinkling synth waves weren't the meandering, cul-de-sacs of the Rifts-era albums, but instead resolved, progressed, mutated and most importantly there was much more variation than before. Each track was distinct yet flowed together seamlessly across the album. Then with Replica, rather the the culmination of the years of previous work that Returnal was, Lopatin revolutionised his sound. The smooth, glossy vistas were (mostly) gone, replaced with, at times, angular and jarring samples of piano and videogame snippets. The lush synths are still there, only obscured by the samples and the presence of much more activity in each track. I felt this was a giant leap forward and wondered where he would go from there.
The first couple of listens through R+7, I liked it but only Zebra and Chrome Country really stuck in my memory. Everything else just seemed enjoyable but kind of vague. Some shamisen here, some digital synth choir there, a Philip Glass and Paul Lansky reference here, a bit of booming pipe organ there. But those elements amounted to such a minute part of the whole album. It was the bits inbetween, the parts where I have no clue how or why Lopatin chose to make the musical choices he did that make this album so special. I must have listened to this album over 2 dozen times and yet something new and different would wind it's way into my brain after each listen. I can see some people finding the constant stopping and starting of the music, moving from one idea to next somewhat frustrating, but I think this keeps it from becoming stale at any point, and forcing your ears to actively engage with the music throughout. It's never at any point needlessly abstract or impenetrably cerebral though. There are some heartrendingly beautiful moments on here. The final track especially is like a reward for listening through, Lopatin plopping a slab of pure joy right at the end to perfectly bookmark the work, recycling the organ from the opening track.
If anyone is familiar with Lopatin's Chuck Person moniker, they would know he was a huge influence on vaporwave, and although his Eccojams seems somewhat crude or dated compared to later vaporwave, it's clear that R+7 uses some of the same concepts behind that genre without ever adhering to any of it's tropes. Not wishing to be banal (but I will be anyway) this is post-vaporwave, it's a transcension. I'd imagine he's been influenced by people who were influenced him, and now he's took it to another level to restart the cycle.
Finally, whether you like this album or not, it surely proves that Daniel Lopation is not just a bloke who likes to noodle around on vintage musical equipment, but a skilled and learned musician and, hopefully his art is worthy of your consideration.
If he improves upon this album in the same trajectory that all his other subsequent albums have over their predecessors, then his next album will be a real treat.
on 31 December 2013
It's not really fair to judge an album by its press, but this has to be the biggest 'Emperor's New Clothes' album of 2013. People seemed overly keen to praise this to the skies as a masterpiece, even before they'd heard it.
It's not bad as such, but it sounds very much like a Synclavier demo CD from about 1983. Or a library CD from the same era. Sampled and synthetic voices are chopped up, alongside occasional Philip Glass-style arpeggios and organs. And that's it, pretty much.
Contrary to the great depth and import people seem to be ascribing to this album, it simply is what it is.
Its taken me a while to 'get' Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin). Lopatins nostalgic sense of futurism is hard to ignore but often difficult to penetrate. <!--more-->Shape-shifting collages of sounds play havoc with your acknowledged perception of how music should affect you. Lopatin disrupts your instincts, missappropriating sounds which we would normally associate with emotional responses such as comfort, sadness or anger. But Lopatins music is no mere programming exercise, the emphasis is still to make you think and move you.
Lopatin has now signed to Warp records, releasing his fifth studio album 'R Plus Seven'. On first listen its difficult to avoid the sheer brightness being emitted from the music. Sonic manipulation is only half the reason why Oneohtrix's sound can be so exhiliarating, Lopatin has refined a painstaking process which channels everything into a restless emotional undercurrent which literally gushes out on 'R Plus Seven'.
The track 'Americans' solidifies Lopatins craft, ambient harmonies and animal-like sounds give way to unknown vocal fragments, and a woodwind and arpeggio synth section. It all quickly builds before yet again abruptly ending, splintering into another amorphous creation. You may think that four minutes of such chopping and changing would drive you insane, but the subtlety in Lopatins craft gives the music an effortless quality. Theres an embryonic ebb and flow to 'R Plus Seven', full of minute fragments of lightness and fluidity, of a multitude of shapes within a myriad of structures. The album moves in vibrant coloured meditative tones, its beauty is in the delicately created details. Theres so much imagination and diversity in this sparkling album that it almost sounds like field recordings of an alien ecosystem.
Oneohtrix Point Never seems perfect for our digital age, a dynamic body of work with unlimited potential, grounded both in the past and present and in tune with the restlessness of our modern lives. These boundless musical shifts, adjustments and signifiers offers something you'd least expect, the irony is that an album like 'R Plus Seven' has an unquantifiable stillness which makes you stop and think.
on 27 May 2014
I can't stop playing this chaotic, ever-changing, non-conformist music. tracks seem to merge and time stands still...ok, the last bit is not true. I would heartily recommend it for the more adventurous music listener. You will be rewarded.