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July 13, 2010

Oneohtrix Point NeverReturnal (Editions Mego, 2010)

This new album stands a good chance of exposing Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never project to a larger audience. It’s already doing so, in fact. Lopatin gained significant attention last year with the release of Rifts, a compilation of works he’d done up until that point, and many new listeners were anticipating this latest release.

The thing about Rifts was its breadth. It’s huge, containing three different albums and well over two hours of tracks in all. There was a lot of great stuff on Rifts, of course, if you had the time for it, but a triple album compilation is a bit daunting for first exposure. The follow-up, Returnal, is more manageable in terms of size, and offers some new sounds along with the familiar moody, robotic synth arpeggiating and digital haze.

Put the record on and you’re greeted with the harshest noise out of OPN yet: “Nil Admiari.” The track sounds like a musical tantrum, a five minute cloud of wails, clattering, and squelching. It’s a jarring start to the record, but it gives way to the more familiar android bliss-out of “Describing Bodies” and “Stress Waves.” The title track follows, and it’s more of the sequenced synth that comprised the earlier works, but with pitch-shifted vocals – an interesting new touch which adds another layer of hypnotic delay.

The remainder of the record offers more of the synth textures that Lopatin has become known for. And this is a synth record, there are no other instruments on any tracks. The layers and delays create the rhythms, sometimes along with odd, incomplete melodies, which are found throughout the album’s droning second half.

All in all, Returnal is a fine record. It does what it does well, and develops Lopatin’s signature sound a bit more in the process.

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