|Oneohtrix Point Never|
|Garden of Delete|
Oneohtrix Point Never — Garden of Delete (November 13, 2015)♦↑♦ Project for experimental musician Daniel Lopatin that traffics in conspicuously beautiful synthesizer soundscapes.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Born: 1982 in Wayland, MA
Styles: Ambient, Experimental Ambient
Album release: November 13, 2015
Recording date: January, 2015 — July, 2015
Record Label: Warp
01 Intro (Daniel Lopatin) 0:27
02 Ezra (Daniel Lopatin) 4:26
03 ECCOJAMC1 (Daniel Lopatin) 0:32
04 Sticky Drama (Daniel Lopatin) 4:17
05 SDFK (Grotus / Daniel Lopatin) 1:27
06 Mutant Standard (Daniel Lopatin) 8:06
07 Child of Rage (Michael Finnissy / Daniel Lopatin) 4:52
08 Animals (Daniel Lopatin) 3:54
09 I Bite Through It (Daniel Lopatin) 3:17
10 Freaky Eyes (Daniel Lopatin / Roger Rodier) 6:31
11 Lift (Daniel Lopatin) 4:09
12 No Good (Daniel Lopatin / Hans Reichel) 3:18
℗ 2015 Warp Records
♦ Paul Corley Additional Production, Mixing
♦ Michael Finnissy Composer
♦ Grotus Composer
♦ Sebastian Krüger Photography
♦ Dave Kutch Mastering
♦ Daniel Lopatin Artwork, Composer, Producer
♦ Hans Reichel Composer
♦ Roger Rodier Composer
♦ Andrew Strasser Design
♦ Beau Thomas Cut
By Philip Sherburne; November 9, 2015; Score: 8.7
♦↑♦ “Frameworks of taste rely on dumb and great things to exist in concert with one another,” Daniel Lopatin wrote earlier this year in an essay about the easy–listening saxophonist Kenny G. Reflecting on his own work as Oneohtrix Point Never, he noted, “I tolerate dumb things sometimes in a kitschy way, but mostly in a sort of zen way, wherein stuff is suspended in a myopic ooze of raw nowness that is beautiful and gross at the same time.”
♦↑♦ Ooze seeps from every pore of his new album, Garden of Delete: It is slathered all over the video for "Sticky Drama", and it erupts from the pustules of the adolescent humanoid alien, Ezra, who is the album’s hero. The project spills over the limits of the album format, too, into rivulets of related texts — an array of videos, blogs, and Twitter accounts packed with surrealist Easter eggs that enhance the experience of the music in unusual ways. Ooze is formless, yet this album is deeply invested in questions of form. What invests music with value? Who creates hierarchical systems of taste? (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the album title, abbreviated, alludes to the Supreme Being.)
♦↑♦ The way Garden of Delete makes us question the assumptions behind all of our high/low binaries is part of its brilliance. OPN’s music is generally understood to exist somewhere between nostalgia and irony, its vaporwave fantasias and unlikely redemptions of ‘80s schlock–meisters like Chris DeBurgh suggestive of late–night trips down YouTube rabbit holes. But we’re not in "Chrome Country" any more. Garden of Delete is unlike anything that Lopatin has done, in terms of technique, mood, or scope. It is denser than his previous albums, by several orders of magnitude. It is more varied, and it is funnier — scarier, too. So much beauty is crosscut with so much ugliness, and so much sincerity interwoven with so many deeply nested layers of kitsch, that the album carries with it a serious risk of whiplash, and that's as true on the 15th listen as on the first.
♦↑♦ The album’s base notes will be familiar from his previous work; they consist of cool, frictionless pads, airy choral presets, and, especially, synthesized sounds that mimic acoustic instruments and revel in their own plasticity, like the tinny player piano of "Sticky Drama", or the jazz guitar noodling of "I Bite Through It". This time out, he ventures even deeper into the uncanny valley separating "real" sounds from mimetic ones. The references pile up in enormous slag heaps, and a few in particular stand out: the growls, chugging guitars, and blast beats of death metal; the flanged riffs of nu metal; and the garish synth stabs and grotesque vocal processing of contemporary commercial electronic music. Two years ago, after a bout of touring, he told Pitchfork, “I feel like I better understand the tropes and guises of EDM now,” and you can hear that familiarity at various points in Garden of Delete.
♦↑♦ That’s not to say the album is a collection of big–room bangers. But certain techniques common on the Electric Daisy circuit have wormed their way into the music: Elastic trance riffs, vertiginous glissandi that zip upward like space elevators, and, especially, the highly processed and contoured voices of which Skrillex is so fond. ♦↑♦ Nothing in G.o.D. follows the usual Pavlovian dictates of mainstream rave: There are builds and drops, but they’re always deployed in ways that throw the listener off balance. Instead of EDM’s predictable roller coaster, he's constructed something more like Monument Valley's non–Euclidean architecture, where 2D and 3D spaces collapse into one another, and trapdoors open at the turn of a hidden dial.
♦↑♦ Garden of Delete is the first OPN album to come with a lyric sheet — no, really — which is nice, because the processed and distorted–to–hell "singing" on the album is mostly indecipherable. But even as a novelty, the lyrics sheet helps tease out the loose, extra–musical narrative developed across a range of apocrypha that orbit the album: a cryptic PDF of a crumpled sheet of paper in which Lopatin recounts, in the manner of a Joseph Conrad introduction, his encounter with a humanoid alien who gave him the USB containing the album's files; a Blogspot account for said alien (with posts dated as far back as 1994) stuffed with aesthetic theory, jokes, flyers for prog–rockers Rush, and musings on a style called "hypergrunge"; a website for the (invented) hypergrunge band Kaoss Edge; a host of (active) Twitter accounts for all these characters; and various mind–bending videos. (Various phone numbers referenced are, alas, red herrings; one is for Spotify's support line, another the Winthrop, Mass., police department.) This may all seem, from the outside, like so much masturbatory energy spillage, but dig deep enough, and they all become part of the larger work. When, in an interview, Ezra asks Lopatin what hypergrunge represents to him, Lopatin answers, “It’s nihilist/formalist. Kaoss/Edge.” You couldn’t ask for a more succinct summary of his music’s underlying principles.
♦↑♦ None of this would matter if the music weren’t absolutely gripping — strange, moving, hilarious, sometimes pushing the limits of good taste, but always in a way that makes you want to hear more. It is more songful than anything Lopatin has done. In "Freaky Eyes", minimalist organs give way to high–pitched voices in the style of Jack Ü; "Ezra" flits between the synth arpeggios of Rustie or Hudson Mohawke, Korn’s nu–metal chug, and Japanese ambient; formally, it just kind of writhes in place, neither rising nor falling. "SDFK" interrupts graceful bells and strings with a crushing death-metal interlude that abruptly falls silent. And if Trevor Horn ever produced Slayer, it might sound something like "Sticky Drama". Your favorites will probably change over time, but the apocalyptic trance of "I Bite Through It" is a good candidate for the album’s highlight, the vantage point from which all the surrounding chaos begins to make sense.
♦↑♦ It all clicked for me one Sunday morning in the pre–dawn stillness of the city. Returning from seeing off a family member at the airport at an ungodly hour, I listened to G.o.D. on headphones for the duration of the ride back to the city center. ♦↑♦ Descending from the bus, I found myself standing in front of a Hard Rock Cafe where two enormous video screens flashed senselessly away above the sidewalk, their pixelated images moving almost in time with the album’s throbbing synthesizers. As Lopatin’s textures stretched and spasmed in my ears, artificial light poured out onto the empty street in ungainly bursts, like tiny droplets of the ongoing heat death of the universe. It was garish and gorgeous all at once, a vision of capitalism at its tackiest accompanied by a soundtrack at once cutting and strangely empathic, and for several minutes I just stood there, transfixed by the raw, oozing nowness of it all.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****
♦↑♦ Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin is the kind of artist you expect to keep evolving, even if exactly how he evolves on each album is unpredictable. That said, he still throws listeners a few curves on Garden of Delete, an album inspired by his adolescence and his 2014 tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. Any expectations that this is OPN’s "guitar album" are quickly dashed: Lopatin’s palette is far wider–ranging, incorporating aspects of his previous albums (as well as a nod to his work as Chuck Person on "ECCOJAMC1") and elements of metal, trance, R&B, and Top 40 pop that, when combined, feel unmistakably like Oneohtrix Point Never. The way he transforms different sounds and eras into something nostalgic yet new has always been one of his greatest strengths. He goes one better on Garden of Delete, imbuing these songs with powerful, wide–ranging emotions. "Animals"' lugubrious melody is mournful to the point of uneasiness, while "No Good"’s deceptively soothing flow and distorted vocoder make it a self–destructing love song. As dense as R Plus Seven was cleanly sculpted, there’s a lot to unpack within Garden of Delete, including its title: a phrase that suggests the meticulous task of editing music as well as the union of creation and destruction (and shortens to G.O.D.), it’s the perfect mission statement for an album that combines past and present in surprising, and surprisingly organic ways. While "Lift"’s crystalline melody is classic OPN, the vocals that dominate the album add to its personal feel — even if they're courtesy of the software instrument Chipspeech. Lopatin uses the software to give voice to Ezra, an alien who figured heavily in Garden of Delete's promotional campaign and who lends the album its emotional arc. We first hear his slurred tones on "Intro," but it’s "Ezra" that offers a proper introduction to the character as well as the album’s scope: the track's rapid shifts between heavily processed alt–metal guitars, stark, glistening synths, dueling vocals, and frenetic arpeggios feel like extraterrestrial mood swings. Shorter songs like "SDFK" and fragmented excursions like "Mutant Standard," which combines a looping melody that morphs from morose to triumphant with vertiginous atmospheres, only add to the feeling that everything on Garden of Delete is teetering on the brink. Lopatin uses his music’s porous boundaries brilliantly, whether he's fusing molten R&B with death metal’s growls and rapid–fire kick drums on the standout "Sticky Drama," crafting dizzying juxtapositions and edits on "I Bite Through It"’s violent melancholy, or naming one of the album’s most beautiful ambient pop moments after the child abuse documentary Child of Rage. These fascinating dualities make Garden of Delete some of Lopatin’s most intellectually engaging music as well as some of his funniest, darkest, and most cathartic. ♦↑♦ http://www.allmusic.com/
John Garratt, Score: 7
By Jon O'Brien; November 20, 2015; Score: 4/5
Colin Joyce // November 13, 2015; Score: 8
|Oneohtrix Point Never|
|Garden of Delete|