Oneontrix Point Never is set to unleash another album to be considered as a ‘true debut’ next month. One (very productive) year after the epochal Returnal (Best album of 2010), Daniel Lopatin is ready to declare his creative ambition and lay waste to expectations, eardrums and frontal lobes all over again. Having excised his synth pop demons with a quirky and catchy Ford & Lopatin album and collaborative impulse on the exquisite, under-heard FRKWYS Vol. 7 – starring drone psych dream team Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin – he was ready to dive headlong into the depths of his inner muse, dredging up something distinctly next-level with Replica.
The range and variety of sounds incorporated here will likely jolt those familiar with his major releases, Returnal and Rifts, as nearly every track strays from the expected drifting keyboard clouds and laser light workouts haunting those works. Returnal hinted that things were getting stormy inside the OPN environment, most notably on opener Nil Admirari‘s volcanic eruption of beauty and brutality, before the album subsided into an occasionally hairy yet blissed out ride for its duration. It was made to be lost in, all thought muscled out in service of a meditative nothingness from which I’d emerge thoughtful and cleansed. But the translation of Latin phrase Nil Admirari, “to be surprised by nothing,” was perhaps more mission statement than anyone guessed, because Replica aims not only for novel horizons but an entirely new mode of conveyance itself.
Instead of the aural equivalent of a hurricane, this album begins with an invitation to slide. Nearly reprising the sighing contentment of last year’s Ouroboros, opener Andro lays back and lets gravity work magic as we’re led to believe this will be a less demanding journey than last time. Perfectly mirroring the chaotic intro dissolving into sleepy rivers on Returnal, Lopatin opens a trapdoor with distortion, tribal percussion and shattered vocals; snapping from the reverie, he unveils the dizzying, fractured realm inside. Sudden, repeating sample blasts of urgent words (“Up!”) and unintelligible phrases snowball into rhythms, gurgling under warm baths of electronic bass, giving way to flights of pornographic radiance. Delicate piano and wordless oohs-and-ahhs sparkle through as aggressive syllabic papercuts urge the dynamic tranquility, keeping the listener on his toes. Every moment of repose is punctuated, every hair raising sequence actively hunting the next surprise around a blind corner
Instead of suppressing the violent energy and gorgeous destruction after one controlled burst, Replica seeks peace, balance and eager dance partners in its propensity for noise and serenity. Transcendence is the natural offspring of this marriage and feels all the more hard-won and treasured. Instead of dissolving and blurring out the unpleasant realities of the world, Oneohtrix Point Never now finds a way to reconcile the righteous and beatific experience of life with the windows flung wide. If Returnal is a night spent alone in meditation, Replica is the morning’s journey into the uncharted future, heart and mind open to the mysterious possibilies ahead.
Listen to the title track here:
and watch the weirdly entrancing official video: