Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
7 November 2011
With the contrails of last year’s outstanding Returnal still visible on the horizon, Daniel Lopatin launches another mission from the OPN mothership with Replica, an album that sees the Brooklyn-based synthesist immerse his hazed-out sound in a bath of reclaimed sample detritus. Released on his own label Software Records (a joint venture with frequent collaborator and fellow retro-synth aficionado Joel Ford), Lopatin’s latest iteration of the Oneohtrix brand is a deftly conceived and executed manoeuver, testifying to the producer’s proficiency in generating evocative, compelling compositions regardless of material or process.
Much has already been written on Replica’s surficial attributes elsewhere, particularly its departure from the trajectory of previous OPN material (don’t worry though, the synths are still there), its foundation in the hypnotic repetition of reclaimed and digitized shrapnel (mostly plucked from the interstices of 80s television adverts), and the connotations of its macabre, Escheresque cover. Within (or without) these subtexts, the album’s constituents manage to speak perfectly fine for themselves: the inviting opener ‘Andro’ leaves the warm jets on just long enough before devolving into a whirl of tribal percussion, whereupon ‘Power Of Persuasion’ pulls the listener through cavernous, reverberated loops of piano, hinting at the textures and sounds that will re-emerge frequently over the course of proceedings.
The above preludes set the stage for the striking ‘Sleep Dealer,’ a languid exercise just north of hip hop that could easily be mistaken for a Dabrye production were it not for the waves of (heart)strings that crest over its latter half. Although applied liberally throughout, Lopatin’s best magic is arguably reserved for the triptych of ‘Nassau,’ ‘Submersible,’ and ‘Up’ – the bookending tracks take seemingly untenable rhythmic underpinnings and manage to build surprisingly substantive works, while ‘Submersible’ keeps them separated by an expansive gulf of breathing, ethereal beauty.
By the time the Global Communication-indebted
‘Explain’ brings denouement, Replica leaves its interpreter
with a healthy balance of unresolved curiosity and satisfaction: the
former begging for repeated, more thorough excursions into the album’s
nuances, the latter making such a proposition actually seem quite
inviting. Whether the OPN juggernaut can sustain its momentum remains
to be seen, however in the meantime Replica provides ample material
upon which to gaze, equally potent whether viewed under a lens or
|Reviewer: Kevin M. Nagle|