Considering my low-profile presence on the blog in recent weeks, it’s high time for a bombastic return to drone. It’s always a crowd pleaser! In that spirit, the new Oneohtrix Point Never release deserves exploration.
Daniel Lopatin has hit the mark twice as Oneohtrix Point Never. Between last year’s Returnal and his newest release Replica, the Brooklyn-based producer has quickly become one of the most interesting names in electronic music. His sonic throw-back vibe has also worked well in his collaboration with Tigercity’s Joel Ford that I tragically forgot to cover this year. No harm; no foul, considering the extent that the Ford and Lopatin release was covered by the blog hype-machine. [The compilation Rifts is also worth tracking down!]
Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica is loaded with sliced up remnants of sampled commercial ads from the ‘80’s coupled with vintage synthesizers. The clip and flip formula is nothing new, but the strength of Replica comes from its cohesive and natural song narratives. The songs make sense and feel like they exist in short, simple unities. They do not feel forced together by cramming disparate sounds; rather, the sample-heavy base of the record fits comfortably under the gentle, droney synth lines, giving the songs a percussive thrust.
The album opens with “Andro” – a languid, breathy start that evolves into a percussive wall of samples. “Power of Persuasion” features repetitive piano figures crossed with synth lines that could find a home on the Blade Runner soundtrack. The most sample-laden track on the album is “Sleep Dealer,” which is one of the most entertaining moments on Replica. The vocals on “Remember” work to bring the previously indecipherable samples into temporary focus, but the false promise of (brief) clarity works only to keep the listener further at bay. The title piece harkens back to “Power of Persuasion”’s repetitive snippets of piano, while “Nassau” looks back to the sample-driven ruckus of “Sleep Dealer.”
At this point, the album begins to take on a noticeable and welcomed symmetry. The following tracks use Replica’s motifs to their advantage, leading up to the closing track. “Submersible” (drone), “Up” (percussive sampling) and “Child Soldier” (a quirky combination of the two) usher in the end with “Explain,” which is the longest and most impressive track on the album. Indeed, it is the most complete summary of the album’s sonic methodology.
Replica is not the kind of record that with induce an immediate freak out. But it’s definitely one of the strongest plays of the year. Replica’s greatness is slow and measured. It begs to be repeated after the first listen, and it slowly roots itself in your psyche. So please, check it out and give some to the Software label, and purchase it on the Mexican Summer website.
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