Oneohtrix Point Never // Replica // November 7 // Mexican Summer
Thanks Oneohtrix Point Never, thanks a lot for fucking up all my calculations. Just when I settle down and think that I finally decided to confirm that Grouper’s A I A is the ambient release of the year, you decide to put out your new LP Replica. It’s totally different from my former favourite of the year and, shit, at times it hardly qualifies as ambient music. It’s flirting so much with 80’s nostalgia, EDM and glitch, it’s ridiculous, and you know what? It’s one album that I just can’t argue with. Replica is as reserved as it is in your face. What a cocktail.
Never mind the stereotype that ambient music is supposed to be boring. Oneohtrix Point Never is the solo project of electronic music producer Daniel Lopatin which some might know as one half of the electronic pop music duo Ford & Lopatin, who themselves released a rather good LP - Channel Pressure earlier this year. However, pop is the last word that comes to mind when listening to Lopatin’s 4th studio album - Replica. It sure is gentle most of the times, apart from straight up hell club glitch like Up, which starts with dubstep drums before crashing down into the sea of heavy psychedelia that wouldn’t be out of place on Animal Collective’s Feels, or Child Soldier which is anything but gentle and reserved and manages to sound like James Blake writing a soundtrack to the NES era Castlevania games. Those tracks are the black sheep of Replica, an album that despite having a bleak image of a skeleton with spaghetti hair on the cover, feels light, heavenly and full of divinity. New age seems to be a new found reference point for electronic artists this year. Kuedo did it by referencing Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack all over his Severant, and Oneohtrix Point Never is leaning towards that too. It’s most definitely not a rip off of anything though, it merely takes all the best things of new age: the light synths, the choral background and adds it’s own spin on it. Whether that’s cut up breathy vocals on Sleep Dealer, the gloomy melancholy on the album’s highlight Replica, or the dark demonic voice that ties up Remember, every single track has something unique to offer and in the end we’re left with an album that carries a single theme and yet manages to sound as unique within itself as is it among the rest of electronic releases this year. Most of the tracks on Replica follow the simple ambient trick of tons of reverb applied to several chords that are being pressed over and over again, and yet, the delicate production with it’s subtle background noise makes every second of it sound necessary. Not an overly complex music but every tiny details feels like it has a purpose. Replica’s production is among best of the year. Stuff like this should be educational.
For an album that is built around one type of sounds it sure does feel short and while it takes it’s influence from the 80’s, it also feels as futuristic as anything released this year. Replica treads the thin line between light and darkness, mist and clarity. It itself is a mere ghost that is unpredictable and unknown. Just when you think that you begin to grasp it, the only thing it manages to do is to evaporate into thin air again. Let Replica envelop you and it’ll be the coldest wind and warmest blanket at the same time and drift into a dream world. Such nonsensical metaphors are a sign of a truly beautiful album, and the description “truly beautiful album” is made for LPs like Replica.