Oneohtrix Point Never: R Plus Seven (Warp)
Release Date: 30/9/2013
Louder Than War’s Simon Tucker reviews the latest album from the ambient, experimental electronic Brooklynite known as Oneohtrix Point Never. Made in conjunction with the mighty Warp it’s a work of some weight.
When the news broke that Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never was to be working with visionary label Warp for his next release, it was greeted with much enthusiasm and the sense of a perfect match being made.
OPN’s musical output shares many of the same esoteric and visionary aesthetics with current and former Warp luminaries, so it seemed only right that they should eventually converge and start a working relationship together. The only problem now being, would the finished album deliver on the excitement and hype surrounding this release?
It takes only thirty seconds of opening track Boring Angel to appease any worries and let the listener slip into OPN’s universe. Church organs shock and soar, synth patterns roll and roll staying one step to the right side of a seventies prog homage. This is a grand opening in every sense of the word and a delightfully confident opener to an album that brims with class, confusion and bravado.
R Plus Seven is an extremely fragmented, jigsaw puzzle of an album and could be seen as an up-to-date electronic companion piece to Radiohead’s Ok Computer, full of Yorke’s “fridge buzz” and scattered sounds which is perfectly encapsulated on second track Americans. There’s so much going on in this one track, which is at once extremely foreboding and dark, yet light and dreamy in equal measure. This is the aural equivalent of trying to focus on objects close to the widow outside a moving train. You have to really focus to hang onto a rhythm or sound and as soon as you think you’ve grasped it, it flits off in another direction leaving you to dive back in again.
Another curve ball is thrown with the first release from the album, Zebra. After the deep and abstract first half, this track sends the listener joyfully and gleefully into the second half of the album with a big endorphin rush. Pure acid house synths invoke nostalgia and yearning for the first wave of dance music whilst simultaneously signposting our future. There is no actual beat to speak of, but that does not restrict it to being a purely head-piece. The first half is all about the dance floor whilst the latter half of the track winds down into more ambient territory thus summing up an entire night out perfectly in less than seven minutes.
Along then takes the listener deep within themselves with rainforest sounds and more ambient textures like that found on OPN’s breakthrough 2011 album Replica. There are also snippets of sounds which betray a fondness for eighties synth pop, before Problem Areas brings us into a more Flying Lotus still funk / jazz electronica proving again that although most of the mainstream press is focusing on the chart-ready “EDM” movement in the States, there are some really interesting figures pushing boundaries and not just creating sounds that are going to fill their bank accounts up with filthy lucre.
Cryo and Still Life follow with everything from lounge funk, holy gospel, and early electro being thrown into the mix before we get to our closing track Chrome Country.
An absolutely sublime piece of music, Chrome Country is where cold technology meets warm emotions. A more cohesive song than a lot of what has gone before; it’s as if this is the reward you get for digging deep into the album and yourself. Choirs sing, waves of synth rock you gently, while piano runs and church organ stabs add widescreen cinematic vision to what has previously been a very personal feeling album.
R Plus Seven is a stroboscopic classic. A warm and uplifting album, it also contains enough darkness to balance out the light. Extremely fragmented, it challenges the listener to put the pieces together in their mind and take from it what they will.