Oneohtrix Point Never– R Plus Seven Release Date: October 1, 2013
Record Label: Warp
If you've never listened to Oneohtrix Point Never before, let me give you a little bit of context. Oneohtrix Point Never is the name Daniel Lopatin uses for his solo material, and the music he makes is very abstract and experimental. His last album, 2011's Replica, solidified him as one of the best experimental ambient electronic artists out there, with its psychedelic textures and sound collage tendencies making it an exhilarating and captivating listen. Lopatin's music is not always easy to listen to; it comes with a lot of twists and turns and its ambiguous nature leaves much of the interpretation up to the listener. But, if you're open to exploring it, you'll find that he is making some of the most interesting music today.
Last year, Daniel Lopatin teamed up with another one of the best experimental artists in the genre, Tim Hecker, to release Instrumental Tourist, a mostly improvised album that showed the two of them are masters of their craft, even if it failed to live up to their respective solo works. With R Plus Seven, Lopatin has released his long awaited follow up to Replica, further pushing his sound to limitless spaces and new territory.
One of the things that made Replica so endearing was the way it used the human voice to create loops and soundscapes, splicing sound clips together to create an uneasy mood. R Plus Seven finds Lopatin once again dealing with the human voice in unique and creative ways, but this time its used in more of an instrumental way, whether voices are bouncing off the walls in “Americans” or coming at you rapid fire in “Boring Angel,” their presence is very pronounced throughout the album. At times, however, the voices are used in ways that make it easy to forget these are even human voices to begin with. Their quality is synthetic and fleeting, though there is still an emotional grip within them, from the anxiety of “He She” to the hopefulness of “Boring Angel.”
The album has a very machine-like quality to it. As the title would suggest, things are put together in very mathematical and calculated ways, like on the carefully pieced together “Zebra,” where a stuttering melody builds and builds before making way into a drone-esque soundscape. There are still a lot of free flowing passages that are easy to get lost in, like on “Along,” but there are a good amount of songs like “Problem Areas” that are very rhythmic and have a sense of rapid forward motion.
Another thing that sets R Plus Seven apart from its predecessor is the overall recording quality. Replica was generally full of lo-fi sounds, but here things are very clean and polished, almost to the point where it feels like a cold record. Despite this, the album is rather inviting, begging you to explore its busy spaces. The two songs that finish off the album, “Still Life” and “Chrome Country,” will prove to be the most exhilarating and breathtaking 10 minutes of the year not found on a Deafheaven record. Much of the album is downright awe-inspiring, requiring repeated listens to discover the several nuances within its wide open structures.
R Plus Seven isn't the kind of album you're going to be able to throw on whenever you want. Like many of the most effecting albums this year, it calls very a specific mood and setting to really be able to take it in. If you're willing to take the time and patience required to give this album the attention it really deserves, you'll find the rewards will exist long after you turn off the album. It's that kind of record, one you'll find yourself dwelling on the middle of the day. Above all else, R Plus Seven is one of the best records of the year from one of the best artists making music that knows no bounds.