Daniel Lopatin does not see the world in the same way as the rest of us do. You can hear it in his logic-defying work, compositions that have the capacity to astonish despite ignoring any obvious blueprint for how we expect a song to be constructed. Along with a couple of brilliant contemporaries, he is responsible for some of the most original works of electronica in the last few years, and yet his music under the Oneohtrix Point Never moniker sounds like an impossible combination of the avant-garde and the oddly accessible. Garden Of Delete represents the latest apex of that work.
If that sounds incongruous or even jarring, it’s because it is, purposely so. Lopatin’s hyperactive imagination is evident as early as “Ezra,” once the more typically minimal arrangement explodes into melodic rave at the midway point. That cacophonous approach to melody is evident again on the epic “Mutant Standard,” which transforms into gloriously uplifting maximalism from a motorik opening. Most startling of all is “Sticky Drama,” which moves from tinkling piano to warped R&B to thunderously heavy blast beats with a whiplash effect, evoking Aphex Twin in his “Come To Daddy” period or Squarepusher at his most ferocious.
The presence of those two names feels wholly appropriate; Oneohtrix Point Never feels like the modern equivalent of those late twentieth century legends, taking familiar and unfamiliar sounds and twisting them into shapes entirely of his own making. Garden Of Delete is also an appropriate title, as Lopatin’s approach has gone from building intricate pieces to collapsing the music in on itself. It is a brasher album in some ways than anything he has done before, yet it maintains his incredible talent for constructing whole and wholly unique pieces.
After several listens, the album begins to sound a lot less chaotic and reveals its seams in the quieter moments, such as the slow build of the brief “SDFK” that leads into “Mutant Standard” or the tweaked balladry of “Animals” with its weirdly moving vocal hook. On “Child Of Rage” the more cerebral approach makes its return, its creator working with the more skeletal arrangements that made R Plus Seven such a fascinating listen. There’s so much to take in and yet in many ways “I Bite Through It,” the first release from this album a few months back, is a perfect distillation of this point in Oneohtrix Point Never’s work, a concentrated three-minute dose of eccentricity and originality.
Garden Of Delete will grab your attention immediately. Living with it will reveal its extraordinary depth of detail, but it also has an instant impact that comes from its irrepressible sense of fun and mischief. That human element is what will keep you coming back to the album, arguably the best in a spectacular run that has seen Lopatin (under his Oneohtrix moniker) join Flying Lotus as the new standard bearers for the new era of a continuously groundbreaking label. There’s a lot of meat to sink your teeth into here, albeit meat that has been shredded and then marinated in the creative juices of its truly one-off chef.
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