Oneohtrix Point Never has been one of my favorite acts for several years now. He has such a unique approach to sound design and its arrangement that it has become iconic for his listeners.
Although his music has always clearly come from the same artist, the textures on each album have been varied. From the minimalist verging on ambient washes of synths found in his early work, he then developed the darker plunderphonics and sample loops used on his album “Replica”. From there we got a more melodic, and at times romantic album, In “R plus Seven,” which pushes his use of space and textures further. He followed that up by the far harsher and aggressive album “Garden Of Delete,” and then the R&B inspired “Age Of.”
You add to that a couple of movie projects, commissions and production credits on several albums, and you have a massively eclectic collection of music, which is always routed in his unique arrangement and compositional style. This is how they relate to each other.
His latest album “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” proves that an experimental and varied collection of sound elements used in his back catalogue weren’t actually that sporadically different after all. It feels like a collage of all his work up until now. As a fan who is well versed in all of his albums they are all represented in this one. It is a great summery of his work up to this point.
For someone who wants to get to grips with his methods and style in under an hour “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” is a fantastic place to start.
What resonated with me most about OPN’s work since the album “R plus Seven” is his ability to trade on the listeners own musical nostalgia. He toys with it regularly, highlighting figments of your musical memory briefly before jolting your focus in another direction. “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” shows that he now has a catalogue of his own music that’s large and old enough that it itself has become the musical nostalgia he can trade off. He has created an ouroboros for his own music. Its a bold and interesting vision that continues to be rewarding on repeat listens.
In its conclusion (as with all of his past works), I’m always left wondering where he will go next? OPN has always seemed to surge forwards with every release, moving in directions you wouldn’t expect. In “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” he has surprised me by doing the opposite and reflecting on the music he has created over the years.
Whilst it works incredibly well for this album, it puts the next one in another interesting predicament. Can he continue a style he has managed to wrap up so well on this album without loosing the surprise of what has made his music so great to me over the years? Are there more soundscapes and genres he can plumb the depths of to continue this style with a fresh take? Or is “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” a send off for the compositional style itself? A swansong to just over a decades work of major releases. Whatever the answer I’m sure fans of his work will be surprised by whatever comes next.
I’ve realised that this was more of an album review than a track of the week. I think the album is great as a whole, however the track that I would describe closest to a “single” and easiest to put into a playlist in its own right is “Long Road Home” so that’s a great place to start. Just bear in mind it’s only the tip of the iceberg for the music on this album and in his back catalogue: