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on 30 August 2010
This is an interesting album. Maybe not having immediate appeal, but worth getting to know and taking a bit of time over.

The first three tracks - 'Nil Admirari', 'Describing Bodies' and 'Stress Wave's form a kind of triptych. 'Nil Admirari' launches straight in, no warning, as noise. It is noise. You'd kind of think that if you hit ALL the notes then you'd manage, somewhere in there, to hit the RIGHT notes. 'Nil Admirari' proves otherwise. But it gradually resolves itself into grand organ chords and slips fairly seamlessly into 'Describing Bodies'. This is a 'gentle giant' of a track - big, big organ sounds overlying other barely discernable instruments - a bit like a remixed 'Rainbow In Curved Air', which is no bad thing. Still, this track morphs into 'Stress Waves', swathes of soft sounds slightly reminiscent of 'Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares' or even maybe Vangelis's 'Memories Of Green'.

The title track 'Returnal' is the most immediately appealing. A strong rhythmic structure topped with breathy treated vocals, reminding me of Jon Hassell and B Eno in it's mix of electronica and 'natural' sound.

'Pelham Island Road' is more atonal, simple on the face of it, but strange tropical animal noises haunt the background, slowly taking over and becoming progressively scarier as the track progresses, like a jungle reclaiming suburbia. In feel, it's almost reminiscent of J G Ballard - maybe 'The Crystal World' - that sense of surreal decay.

'Where Does Time Go' is kind of 'Heavenly Music Corporation' Frippertronics and Tangerine Dream. It swirls, repetitively, and timelessly. It is a beautiful track to loose yourself in.

'Ouroboros' reminds me of the 'Discreet Music' album, with it's mix of cushiony synth sounds and underwater instruments. Gentle, short.

'Preyounadi' is back to those jungle sounds; more percussive this time, almost 'musique concrete' but echoey and somehow wet - a gritty, steamy sound a bit like 'Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict' but with an underlying Jon Hassell/Brian Eno organic synth sound. And soft, inarticulate vocals. It's remarkably evocative but not immediately appealing, repaying repeated listening.

And that's kind of like the whole album. There are one or two immediately appealing tracks; the rest need a bit of work. But if you're prepared to put that work in, then it is a genuinely interesting album and I'm looking forward to more.

(N.B. Bit rate displayed in iTunes is around 220Kbps VBR (Variable Bit Rate)).
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Oneohtrix Point Never is Daniel Lopatin and he hails from Brooklyn.
(Brooklyn Oh Brooklyn How Sweet The Many Sounds You Breathe!!)

The sonic landscapes he has created on his new album 'Returnal'
show evidence of a distinctive creative presence and lively mind.

There are eight pieces in the collection and its greatest strength
lays in its refusal to settle down into any kind of cosy or predictable
formula. Mr Lopatin keeps us guessing and engaged from beginning
to end. His slippery use of technology never becomes more powerful
or intrusive than his very human touch. The sum effect of his labours
are as affecting as they are intellectually beguiling.

Things kick off in a blaze of violent white light and noise with the
cacophonous mayhem of 'Nil Admirari' ("Marvel At Nothing" - Horace :
The Epistles, Book I : Epistle VI). The explosive shards of sound scatter
in all directions from an impenetrable core. Distorted fragments rise
and fall in the mix like lost souls hopelessly trying to regain corporeality.
A marvellous articulation of some kind of hell on earth.

The luminous rotating patterns of the next two tracks ('Describing Bodies' and
'Stress Waves') offer both relief and the possibility of salvation from the
violence just unleashed upon us. Meditative, organic and strangely beautiful,
this is music to calm and to heal.

The spiky rhythmic structure of title track 'Returnal' embodies an eerie sense
of fun. The dream-like atmosphere is shot through with delightfully wobbly
vocal constructions which conjure images of a chorus of small furry animals
engaged in some primitive arcane rite and incantation. (It really does!)

The ground under our feet shifts and slides from side to side and up and down
within the elusive spiraling textures of 'Pelham Island Road'. An uncertain journey.
Cinematic. extraterrestrial and enchanting.

'Where Does Time Go' poses an age-old question and offers up an answer of sorts.
Mr Lopatin propels us forward through the tunnels and synapses of his fertile
imagination in one long undulating wave of gentle harmonic modulation.

The quasi-symphonic sonorities of 'Ouroboros' are simply sublime.

Final track 'Preyouandi' brings this extraordinary album to an agitated and
fidgety conclusion. A primal lake of bubbling chemical soup which may well
have given birth to everything we have just heard and to which it may all return.

A compelling and curiously satisfying contribution to the listening world.

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on 15 November 2011
There's a very appealing retro-futurist narrative to be imagined whilst listening to this album.

'Nil Admirari' is quite a brutal and noisy opening track, with what I imagine is the sound of a spacecraft engine burning up in the atmosphere of a foreign planet. 'Describing Bodies' marches singularly forward on a fluorescent drone.

'Pelham Island Road' cheekily nabs and slows down the synth-line from Boards of Canada's track 'Pete Standing Alone' and is beautiful and graceful. 'Where Does Time Go' pulses away on soft bleeping tones and floats in its own pre-MP3 analogue space as I embrace the irony of listening to it via my iPod.

'Preyouandi' contains fussy and watery sounding percussion, like bowls and pots flitting against each other as they float on a choppy wave, and an awkward synth scatting about beneath the surface.

If you like music that's ambient and quite spacey, and don't mind the repetition that comes with evoking the infinite expanse and sweep of drone then this is well worth a listen.
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on 7 May 2013
I had heard some of this and loved the tone and purity of his sound. Buying the cd was a great idea- well produced/ innovative and powerful. Some American electronic music is excellent-here is a good example.
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on 25 July 2010
I couldn't disagree more with the previous review of this sonic construction of the rarest genius. THERE ARE NO HOOKS IN THIS MUSIC. It's not for radio and that's part of whats so marvelous about it. Audio soundscaping is another type of artistic medium that uses sounds to produce aesthetic and emotively shimmering music best heard on one's own with masses of bass. The fullness of OPN's sound is unmatched.

Read below for a review by Philip Sherburne, which is what tuned me into this album.

"I think a lot of people might not really get Oneohtrix Point Never. One mag recently described his music as IDM; a critic friend derided it as warmed-over electronica. No, and no! If you're not partial to the elements of his music-synthesizer arpeggios spun into gauzy shapes, new age pads injected with steroids, warped bits of new wave-then ok; it's not for everyone. (The acronym F.B.O.-"For Blazers Only"-might be overstating things, but Oneohtrix Point Never's music is definitely a smoker's delight.) But don't discount the dude's rigor. A YouTube video edited and uploaded by him simply repeats a bar of Chris DeBurgh's "The Lady In Red" along with a hypnotic loop of primitive computer graphics, but instead of being merely kitschy, it ekes something weirdly stirring out of its scraps of '80s detritus. If I could frame it and hang it on the wall, I'd leave it playing all damn day.

I really have no idea how he made the music on Returnal. There are scads of synthesizers, but it's impossible to say exactly what. I'd guess there's a mixture of analog and digital, processed and sampled into an oily foam; it's full-frequency and lo-fi all at once, giving cheap plastic sonics the Midas touch as they're sculpted into ballooning forms. Of all the OPN albums I've heard so far-and I believe that's most of them-Returnal is both the most diverse and the most focused, ranging from pure noise to plangent electro-pop, but always executed with what I can only describe as total commitment. It's a trip in every sense; sit back and enjoy the legroom."

Philip Sherburne is an American journalist, musician and DJ based in Berlin. He writes for Pitchfork and The Wire, amongst others...

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on 22 June 2011
If they do, then this is the soundtrack. At once knowing and so, so self assured. As with Emeralds, this takes its reference point from the early 80s and ramps it up to the 21st Century. Wonderkid Daniel Lapotin has taken the Jan Hammer/Vangelis tip and run with it. The result is an album that uses synths in an old fashioned, yet totally obvious way. Using them as the lead instrument,as well as texturing/pads in a way that Mylo did on Destroy Rock 'n' Roll. Now that is a strange/way out reference! Hipsters love'em and so they should. Arty and artful, an Editions Mego success. Check out Mark McGuire/Emeralds front man's solo albums for further confirmation that this is the right stuff. Rifts is the album that preceeded this one and is worth a punt.
Technology is mucky and there is dirt behind the wiring that sometimes does not work. It's always raining and the light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.
Time to die.
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on 15 June 2010
From the very start the new OPN LP wrong-foots you. A manic, squalling `Nil Admirari' sounds not a million miles from the digital stutter and splatter of Lesser. Like a spacecraft caught in an electric maelstrom, spiralling out of control it is met by the floating relief of `Describing Bodies' as New Age as anything that's come before from Lopatin's vintage keys. `Stress waves' is a misnomer - a delicate and melancholic track floating in the ether. A more novel approach is in the title track which introduces heavily treated vocals for the first time - not a million miles from the minor chords and approach of Boards Of Canada's `Beautiful Place In The Country' this remains a highlight.

`Pelham Island Road' starts off striking some Detroit techno poses and then drifts back into the vintage synth washes of old. The short `Ouroboros' is the standout track with some deeply emotive chord progressions. Disappointingly, Returnal then peters out rather aimlessly with `Preyouandia'.

Don't get me wrong, this is by no means a bad listen but I had hoped for a little more. You are left with the nagging feeling that the excellent `Rifts' is perhaps all you need from OPN...

Compared to the absolutely immense return from Emeralds with `Does It Look Like I'm Here?' (also on Mego) it just comes across as a bit of a damp squib to these ears. 6.5/10
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