Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven

by Daryl Worthington Rating:9 Release Date:2013-09-30

Daniel Lopatin has come a long way from the Tangerine Dreamisms of his earliest works. While Returnal and Rifts were firmly routed in deep, spacey synth ambience, he has since formed an increasingly distinct identity which seems to be simultaneously engaging with mainstream music structures while becoming increasingly abstract.

R Plus Seven, the first Oneohtrix Point Never album on Warp Records, takes elements from all of his previous work and regurgitates them into a new form. The futuristic pop of his Ford & Lopatin project is present alongside the recycled commercial junk of his last album, Replica. The free-form collaboration with Tim Hecker is reflected alongside the diverse and ambitious electronic music released by his Software label. It doesn't sound like any of his previous releases, yet somehow seems to be a natural progression on the trajectory they were plotting.

Opener 'Boring Angel' travels from church-tinted organ chords to frantic, cartoonish synth arpeggios. 'Americans' progresses through spooky field recordings, bombastic harpsichord and manipulated vocals which at points sounds like a Danny Elfman soundtrack before collapsing into weird glitching samples and slowly building drones. The transitions between sections are sudden and unexpected but never abrasive.

The effect is similar to flicking through channels on a TV without stopping long enough to properly focus on any one station. Despite this chaos, the album sounds meticulously arranged, more than previously with Lopatin's OPN project. The pieces feel like they're fitting into tangible song structures, the scattered components part of a cohesive whole.

As with 2011's Replica, a key part of the construction of OPN's music is the relationship between elements he has composed himself and elements that have been recycled from musical and non-musical sources. While on Replica the two elements seemed deliberately polarised, for R Plus Seven Lopatin exhibits a musique concrete-style disregard for the differences in origins of a sound.

'Zebra' is built around a Fuck Buttons-style oscillating synth melody which becomes shrouded in acoustic instrumentation and choral voices - a thick body of sound which is completely integral to the arrangement. As the song progresses into mellower territory, this conversation between sound sources continues, the listener becoming increasingly disorientated by the placement of textures. Again, the sense of composition in the music continues to shine through - sounds are taken from a plethora of sources and placed together in a way which makes the source of each texture irrelevant compared to their cumulative effect.

What really makes the album unique is how fun it is to listen to. The bouncing bombast of 'Problem Areas' sounds like what people in the 1950s would have imagined pop music would sound like by 2013. For every deep piece of sound-art like 'Cryo', there will be something that sounds like an alien's exercise video.

The album isn't necessarily dancey, and doesn't resort to clichéd techno beats to find its energy. Instead Lopatin has composed a series of deep, complicated pieces which change pace, mood and direction. It is incredibly ambitious in its productions but executed with a sense of humour that prevents a descent into pretention.

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