I’m always going to listen to anything OPN puts out and more often than not its going to end up as my track of the week. His ability to have a unique style and yet keep it fresh with rampant experimentation have struck a chord with me over the past decade and then some.
His latest track “Nothing’s Special” uses the same sounds you’ve heard in his work before, It exited previously in a different form on his album “Magic Oneohtrix Point never” but this time the changed elements are collaboration with Spanish singer Rosalía.
Her vocals create a powerful organic counterpoint to the colder electronic circuitry that makes up the instrumentation of the track. This results in a strong and mournful feeling that’s extenuated by the tracks tempo:
Out of all the albums on my end of year list, this is the one I had to wrestle with the most. I never struggled with the album or its accessibility but it made me think long and hard about my albums of the year list and why I choose the records that go on it.
For almost as long as this blog, I have been a fan of Oneohtrix Point Never and have probably written about his music more than any other act. Two of his albums have already made it into my album of the year lists. Out of all the acts that I have talked about on my blog, his work is the stuff I return to the most throughout.
When making my album of the year list, I take a couple of things into account, which have in the past hindered records. Firstly, have I already said what I needed to say about them in another post, Secondly, is the album doing anything new that the artist’s previous work hasn’t done before. This album for me fails at both of these mini-rules I made up for myself. This is why I have struggled with putting it on my albums of the year list, even thought it is the record I have listened to the most this year.
Eventually, the elements I was wrestling with moved to the back of my thought process the more times I listened to the record, and eventually I knew it had to be on this list.
Up until this point, the OPN sound has been both massively defined and amorphous. His sound design and production is so individualistic it verges on the iconic, but since his album “Returnal,” he has always applied it to very different styles of music.
Throughout the past decade of his non-soundtrack albums, we have seen OPN apply his filter to, Rock, R&B and a large mix of electronic genre. He plays with the listeners memories of these genre; a technique that goes back even further to his massively influential “Eccojams pt.1” which looped small sections of mostly 80’s popular music to create washes of undefined nostalgia for the listener of a certain age. A fake dream of an idea, of what music was/is and what it can, can’t and maybe shouldn’t be.
In the past, that was the most interesting part of his work. Hearing how he took the feelings and soundscapes of music you are already attached to and shifted them into his world. On “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” he goes one step more meta, using the music he’s made up to now as the progenitor for this album.
We’re treated to an audio ouroboros of his back catalog. The album shifts and uses techniques from previous records to create a collection of tracks that will be rewarding to long time listeners of his work, and a “technical greatest hits” for people who are new to his style.
It’s all here. The electronic ambiance of his earlier “Rifts” work, the aggressive pop sensibility of “Returnal,” the vocal sampling of “Replica”, the romantic digital sounds of “R plus Seven”, the vocal synth design of “Garden Of Delete,” and the R&B tinges of “Age Of.” All entwined to make a record that still manages to sound like a complete work, no matter how odd and disjointed the elements can be.
In every review of OPN, I always finish with a bewildered excitement around what he could possibly make next. What genre would he blend into the musical paste of his style. But this time I have a separate feeling. He could just stop. “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” distills all of the work and techniques he has applied for just over a decade into one complete package. It could easily be a swansong to the work and a perfect sendoff.
However it could also be the beginning of something completely new. Maybe he will change the production style itself on a future record? I am always left with questions at the end of an OPN record however this is a type of question I have never asked before and that is the main reason I had to put it in my album of the year list.
“Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” does something I would have never expected. It holds a mirror up to the previous work, giving you a reflection of your own sentimentality towards the back catalog, and yet it still manages to surprise and leave you with even more questions as to how, why and when will this enigmatic approach stop creating amazing music that dumbfounds expectations.
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:
I’ve really been enjoying the album “Græ“ over the past week. Lush, dense music underpins Moses Sumney’s amazing vocals on this gargantuan double album, which mixes many genres together with bold ambition.
It was no surprise to realise that, on further research, Daniel Lopitan (aka. Oneohtrix Point Never), a regular in my TOTW lists, was a co producer on this album.
Looking deeper into the album’s liner notes, you will notice a who’s who of some of the people at very cutting edge of music over the past 5 years.
Its impressive to see this much collaboration from so many strong identities. They have all come together to create something that manages to stay sounding “popular” throughout all of its experimentation, without compromising on any of its artistry.
Colouour features Keys for both Danial Lopitan and FKG, who also provides saxophone along with Shabaka Hutchings (the saxophone player on my album of the year recommended The Comet is Coming).
It opens with washes of layered saxophones and electric piano. These build to the halfway mark, before fading away to a more sparse arrangement. Moses smooth vocal delivery over an e-piano and deep 808style bass/kick is reminiscent of many a traditional neo-soul track, but it is then peppered with experimental electronic SFX that slightly warp the track into new territory.
Colouour is one of many interesting and enjoyable tracks on an album that is well worth a listen. It could easily be re-appearing in many lists at the end of the year, including mine.
After his previous album “Age Of” and its change in style. Many fans clamored for an album of content closer to his earlier works, which can now be found complied on the fantastic “Rifts” collection.
Well it looks like with the announcement of a new album and its opening track “Love In the Time Of Lexapro” OPN has done just that. All the hallmarks of his style of sound design are there. The track opens with a wide synth pad and finishes with a lead line both from the Juno 60/106 Synthesizer used on many of his early works. The artwork also brings back memories of “Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol.1”.
This is a trip into nostalgia for fans and will please many. It will be interesting to see how OPN continues to straggle both the need for experimentation in his music and the desires of avid listeners to his earlier works.
With this most recent release he seems to have gone back to an old formula that still hasn’t lost its charm and created something faithful to his early works without overdoing it. In turn he has created an easy and enjoyable listen and an anticipation to hear the rest of the album.
Every release of an Oneohtrix Point Never album has left me dumbfounded. His ability to constantly vary a sound that sits on the fringes of modern music has made him one of my favorite musicians currently working.
His latest album “Age Of” is closer to pop music than any of his previous works. However, it’s mangled through a unique production and composition techniques that create a surreal and often bleak experience for the listener.
Many of the tracks contain vocals as a leading element but for this week I decided to go for an instrumental piece.
“We’ll Take it” sounds somewhere between music and machinery. Jittering percussive electronic hits provide the basis of the track as they rip their way into a cavernous spring reverb. The percussive elements may be in the front and center of the track but its the samples and synth pads that create its sinister tone. As the piece continues it undulates in different directions, defying expectations to its very conclusion.
As modern electronic music continues to push the boundaries of music, OPN leads the charge. In doing so he creates fresh and exiting music that’s always worth a listen.
Oneohtrix Point Never always manages to defy expectations with every release. His latest track black snow is a ballad; something that’s far more accessible then his experimental work up to this point.
A stripped back sound design provides a minamalist base for the vocals until the halfway part, where larger elements of synthesis and samples draw out a world that is iconic to OPN’s style. No matter the genre of music he’s creating his unique vision shines through.
OPN still manages to subvert and surpass my expectations with every release. And the more populist direction of black snow is the most surprising thing he could have done. A calling card for his new album that I’m now highly anticipating.
I always look forward to a New Oneohtrix Point Never Release. Danial Lopatin under the OPN pseudonym has always pushed electronic music in unique and exiting directions.
On his new project this sound has been reigned in somewhat due to its purpose as the score for the feature film Good Time. This results in his most accessible work to date for the general listener and a perfect place to start for anyone new to his sound.
Leaving the park features looping arpeggiated synthesis that interweaves with other electronic sounds that vary from the wistful to the sinister. Creating a style reminiscent of the music of John Carpenter whilst also keeping the soundscapes and sound design found in other works by OPN:
The first artist to ever make it onto my list two years in a row. Danial Lopatin aka Onoeohtrix Point Never is always someone I look forward to hearing, because his music comes from such a unique place. Although his influences are recognisable, the way he morphs and structures them is distinctively his own. With each album he develops this sound, pulling it in different directions and adding new instrumentation with refreshing results.
Garden Of Delete comes from a far darker place then his previous work R Plus Seven. Although R Plus Seven had its sinister moments they were lurking in the background. Garden Of Delete brings them into the forefront, making you confront them head on. Allot of this sound is influenced by Chipspeech vocals, the main new addition to his musical palate. In several Interviews he has talked about using the Plogue software chipspeech which emulates vintage style speech synthesisers. It’s a key player in garden of delete, used on almost every track in one way or another and has greatly shaped the instrumentation outside of the software itself.
By its very nature vintage speech synthesis is pretty cryptic, harsh and at times undecipherable. Rather than being a weakness OPN has turned it to a strength. Taking influences and instrumentation from other genre that compliment this kind of vocal delivery. Guitars thrash with distortion, jingle with plucky delays and synths choke with big blocks of noise reminiscent of sounds heard in several Metal sub-genre. This matches the speech synths which mimic Metal music on tracks like “I Bite through it” and “Sticky Drama”.
In the final Track “No good” the vocals start to approach R&B before being ripped apart with heavy sampling. Elements of EDM are also there, the opening synths on “I Bite Through it” are a perfect example of a sound one step removed from a modern rave. Proof that OPN has added this style of production to his skill set. In its softer moments the album has elements of Baroque and Ambient music. All these different sounds and textures are mixed in with each other in unlikely ways, layered onto of each other or viciously cut between to constantly keep the listener guessing.
Trying to explain whats going on in his music is futile because it doesn’t fit properly into any traditional form or style. Instead the music works best when you just go with it on an emotional level. OPN may not make music in a traditional sense, however he plays with the characteristics and our preconceptions of music. At times these can be disorienting and unnerving like on track “SDFK” where a quite minimal piece is interrupted by a drum pattern close to Industrial music. At other times it can be playful like on the track “freaky eyes”. Where a single guitar note that sounds like the opening to a roaring solo from the likes of Van Halen is held on its own, toying with your expectations until he moves onto something structurally entirely different. It keeps you constantly guessing as to what’s going to happen next. Confounding your expectations whilst also at the same time connecting with you emotionally. You can go from anticipation to euphoria and into fear within 16 bars of a single track and although hard to comprehend the music gives you allot to think about on repeat listens.
This album is a toy box of novelties that somehow works as a whole. Playing with your toys as a child you can imagine a world where both a teddy bear and an action man can exist and go on adventures together. Although both these objects are completely different sizes and made with different materials they can exist in their adventures because of our imagination. Garden Of Delete has this feeling of imagination, creativity and playfulness in spades and will continue intreague, joke, play and develop for me on repeat listens for many years to come.
It has been just over a week since the release of the new Onohtrix Point Never album entitled Garden Of Delete and I have listened to it a lot. Yet again OPN aka Daniel Lopatin has both defied and expanded expectations with music that seems to come from somewhere truly unique. Music that continues to develop through years of listening as his previous albums have proved. A musician that is pushing the edges of taste, genre and even music itself.
Sticky Drama is the most recent single from Garden Of Delete and is a perfect summary of the album as a whole. Old Chiptune vocal synthesis, hard tearing synths and heavy midi manipulation are used to create music that seems to be both referential and truly unique.
On the first few listens it may be hard to get your head around what is happening within his sound design and compositional structures but I urge you to stick with it. Ignore what you usually expect from music and focus on the raw guttural emotions you get from listening to Sticky Drama. The track manages to blend elements of beauty and harshness. It’s an anthem for both total anarchy or a violent dictatorship:
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