Release Date: Nov 8, 2011
Record label: Mexican Summer
“Gropius wrote a book on grain silos, Le Corbusier one on aeroplanes, and Charlotte Perriand brought a new object to the office every morning; but today we collect ads. ”1 Partly in delight (partly in desperation), students of pop culture take their cues from throwaway models. Often beautiful — occasionally jarring — frequently uncanny, the 10 tracks here comprise a series of aural-cognitive maps in which predominantly-archival information is sourced, ciphered, and recalled in a series of non-hierarchical transformations and juxtapositions.
Everyone who reads about music has a list of descriptors made meaningless by overuse. "Hazy" (rhymes with "lazy") is right up there for me, but another that makes me wince though I've used it myself dozens of times over the years is "cinematic." It's the term we reach for with instrumental music because movies are where we first learned about the emotional impact of abstract sound. If we'd have grown up in the silent era, we'd be leaning on different adjectives, but given our level of "moving image + instrumental music" saturation, "cinematic" is what comes to mind.
Channeling the Earth-bound pleasures in such disparate records as The Orb’s Pomme Fritz EP and Vangelis’ Sauvage et Beau, OPN speeds across rumbling vistas with audio transmissions chopped to bits and beamed back in (“Nassau,” “Up”). With Replica, synth-dreamer Daniel Lopatin heads into the Mexican Summer studio to create something more expansive than some of his recent CD-R efforts, and less of the distorto-R&B pop he created with Joel Ford on Channel Pressure. .
It isn’t a waste of time learning about avant garde music. In fact, finding out exactly why someone would choose to make an album by sampling ants chewing on a drumstick and wiring up a moss-covered food processor to a wah wah pedal before calling the magnum opus ‘Pig Crevasse #7. 8’ and releasing only 10 copies on Betamax video cassette – over, say, learning four guitar chords and calling your band The Toasters – can be quite mind-expanding.
It's always hard to say if, or when, Dan Lopatin is trying to be funny. That would be unusual enough in a high-ish profile drone artist, and unusual enough to explain some of his appeal. But if he is, his irony is thick enough to pass as anything but. It was sort of funny that he began his first mass-market Oneohtrix Point Never album—after scores of tapes and limited vinyl runs—with a blast of noise, but I don't think it was a joke.
Oneohtrix Point Never continues his (for it is a he, Daniel Lopatin) alliterative purple patch with another beautifully disturbing and haunting album. Following 2009’s wonderful Rifts and 2010’s even more wonderful Returnal comes Replica, an album that differs somewhat from its predecessors, while retaining a sense of authorship and style – a rarity in the usually anonymous world of electronica. Lopatin has in recent years become something of a poster child for this particular strain of music – think of Aphex Twin’s similar status in the early 1990s (although Oneohtrix is a far less confrontational prospect than Aphex ever was).
It’s impossible to just flick through Simon Reynolds' Retromania. It’s a dense beast of a diatribe, a dissection of ‘pop culture’s obsession with its own past’. That’s its subtitle, in fact. It’s something that requires a wholehearted belief more than just a fair-weather assumption when it comes to the theories and references involved.
Replica, retro-synth drone maven Daniel Lopatin's return as Oneohtrix Point Never following his critically adored, profile-rocketing 2010 album Returnal (and his equally estimable work with Ford & Lopatin), offers repeat customers both familiarity and surprise in roughly equal measure. In the former column, Lopatin still grounds his creations in conspicuously beautiful, buzzing, humming, and twinkling Kosmiche synthscapes; once again, everything feels draped in a syrupy, soft-focus analog glaze. But only one track, the aptly titled "Submersible," sustains itself on warmly drifting, rhythmically unfettered synthetic sound washes alone.
Oneohtrix Point Never is the recording alias of Brooklyn-based Daniel Lopatin. His sixth album is an ambitious electronic song cycle that finds him manipulating samples from compilations of TV adverts into beguiling new shapes, taking in themes as varied as child soldiers and "coming to grips with non-answers regarding time and space". He is, in short, unlikely to be confused with Viva Brother.
Writing about Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children for Slant‘s Best Albums of the ‘90s, I deployed a phrase—“android pastoral”—that doesn’t appear to have been used anywhere else on the Internet. Ambient electronica, which is so often unfamiliar both in its structure and instrumentation, confronts reviewers with a nearly impossible descriptive task, and I suspect many readers roll their eyes when we indulge our poetic sides in trying to convey our listening experience. It’s not like I want to write reviews that sound like they were drafted with Magnetic Poetry, but the available alternatives (copy from a press release, name-drop egregiously) are even less appealing.
The music on Replica is culled from TV ad compilations. But for electronic music built out of parts so seemingly empty, Daniel Lopatin's latest song cycle is surprisingly alive. It sounds like it's breathing. There's a chilly but inviting personality to this, a vibe as haunting as it is mesmerizing ….
Armed with a bleak, postmodern vision that’s as indebted to Philip K. Dick as it is to Aphex Twin, Daniel Lopatin has quietly risen, along with the likes of Tim Hecker and Mark McGuire, to the forefront of drone music’s recent resurgence. His most recent effort, last year’s Returnal, was one of the best ambient releases in years, showcasing Lopatin’s creative range from the deep, ponderous sprawl of “Where Does Time Go” to the vocoded melancholy of the title track.
Since reading Simon Reynolds’ Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past this summer, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time consciously and sub-consciously policing the music I listen to for retro-ness. Is there a purpose beyond comfortable familiarity that justifies the “Try a Little Tenderness” sample on “Otis”? What are the implications of evoking an era through meticulous mimicry rather than direct reuse? On Replica, Oneohtrix Point Never creates a sonic mélange composed largely of ‘80s refuse, but it’s so lacking in recognizable reference points that it precludes retro sample-spotting and wistful nostalgia alike; but it’s a fascinating listen in its own right. Daniel Lopatin, the brains behind Oneohtrix Point Never, is one of the few past-referencing artists that Reynolds lets off the hook in his book, and it’s easy to understand why.
Oneohtrix Point Never isn't a name to roll easily off the tongue for DJs, but Brooklyn composer Daniel Lopatin isn't aiming for mainstream radio. The kind of chap who collects sounds like others hoard stamps, this is his sixth album of digitally compiled fragments of noise, which have been put together in a series of pieces that are alternately comforting and haunting. Here, most of the samples originate from 1980s television adverts, which are fed into soundscapes of Juno-60 synthesisers, making them part of a lineage stretching back to 1960s electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream, via 1980s Art of Noise, through to 1990s sample compilers the Future Sound of London, Archive and the Orb.
Atlas Sound It’s getting harder to tell the difference between Bradford Cox’s two recording projects. Deerhunter, his band, used to be noisier, sometimes punkier and sometimes more abstract; Atlas Sound, his solo recordings, used to be dronier and spacier. But at this point his recordings have ….
An artful act of audio archaeology: reconfigurations of lost sound. Spencer Grady 2011 Like Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight, Daniel Lopatin’s latest album under the Oneohtrix Point Never banner is raised on the reactivation of dead parts. But, whereas the experimental filmmaker used the dismembered wings of fallen Lepidoptera to create a fresh facsimile of life, Brooklynite Lopatin trawls endless low-media channels to populate his cosmic electronic vistas with ghostly voices and half-forgotten signs.
It's only been a short time since Rifts, a brain-meltingly brilliant compilation of Daniel Lopatin's early records, arrived back in 2009. But since then Lopatin has mapped out his own zone in electronic music, a unique space where the cough syrup-addled swagger of DJ Screw and the icy synthscapes found on Russian movie soundtracks carry equal weight. Through his work as Oneohtrix Point Never, the hyperreal pop he's made as one half of Ford and Lopatin (formerly Games) and his hypnotic YouTube clips that resemble midnight transmissions from the dystopia of Cronenberg's videodrome, he's made a sci-fi world where soft rock, kosmische musik and sinister visions of the future intersect, with spellbinding results.