With a discography that proves almost impossible to pin to any one specific genre, there’s really no guessing where producer Daniel Lopatin’s experimental solo project Oneohtrix Point Never could venture with each new release. From EDM to new age, chamber pop and pulse-rattling film scores, Lopatin’s output over the last decade has been consistently surprising and a joy to behold for fans of the left-field. Each record envelops the listener in a concept and style that has been devised by the 38-year-old with auteur-like attention, which is part of the reason that his new album is worth setting aside some time for.
Titled after the misheard name of a soft rock radio station called Magic 106.7 that inspired his original alias, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never finds the New York artist indulging in his long-time fascination of transmitting radio signals over the airwaves and the aleatory listening style of the medium. The results in an absorbing 47 minutes that reveals new layers with each sitting, as Lopatin further explores the plunderphonics that he used so well on albums such as 2011’s Replica.
The album has something of a mixtape feel about it – each song’s end is woven into the beginning of the next, making it quite a dense listening experience initially, but also extremely holistic. He splices warped samples of DJ sign-offs alongside ads for self-help mantras amidst his glitchy beats and percussion, acting as darkly comic intermissions, as if you’re hearing lost transmissions from some sort of twilight zone.
Though there are some eerie moments, the album is still surprisingly soothing to listen to, with the reverb-coated melodies of tracks like ‘Long Road Home’, ‘I Don’t Love Me Anymore’ and ‘Nothing’s Special’ having a comforting atmosphere to them. It’s also one of the most collaborative OPN projects to date, with Arca, Caroline Polachek and Nolanberollin making appearances throughout. However it’s The Weeknd-featuring ‘No Nightmares’ that is most memorable, where the R&B star’s voice marries with Lopatin’s spacey synths in a nocturnal, blissful fashion.
Magic Oneohtrix Point Never ultimately feels more abstract than 2018’s dystopian Age Of and last year’s breath-taking score for Uncut Gems, yet it sacrifices none of the unorthodox qualities that have always made him stand out. It’s a thoroughly kaleidoscopic affair that proves to be one of the most imaginative and genre-defying records this end of 2020.
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