Brooklynite Daniel Lopatin is the “Lopatin” in Ford & Lopatin, teaming up with Tiger City’s Joel Ford to make neatly packaged neo-disco. Yet before this collaboration, Lopatin spent a few formative years using quirky keyboards and samples to hypnotic effect under the moniker Oneohtrix Point Never. His third proper Oneohtrix release, Replica, follows a similar formula but suggests a new level of accessibility.
For this album, Lopatin sourced many sounds from old TV commercials, cut like small gems from a raw diamond. Incidental bits of breathing, sections lifted from the middle of notes, speech diphthongs—on Replica they become a relentless procession of grooves often looped like skipped records. More than half the tracks feature this technique, and the results range from smart tone poems (“Sleep Dealer,” “Power of Persuasion”) to the kind of controlled experiments we’re used to hearing from Matthew Herbert (the gulping, tap-dancing “Nassau”).
Mixed in among the mini-plunderphonics are vintage synths and skillful arrangements that add surprising, twisty bits of sonic narrative. The atmospheres and samples that kick off “Up” and “Remember” slowly release other sounds trying to scratch their way to the surface. Before “Child Soldier” reaches its unresolved-string conclusion, it seems to shine light through the prism of M.I.A. and Diplo’s earliest days. “Andro” is a fearsome opening track, Peter Gabriel’s Passion gone nautical until the tribal council breakdown at the end.
Lopatin doesn’t leave behind the drone that defined prior Oneohtrix Point Never releases like Rifts and Returnal. There are hints of Global Communication and Klaus Schulze here, alternately concealing and revealing other surprises. Replica isn’t without its disappointments—the title track feels like the same minor-key jazz measures played over a series of Boards of Canada songs—but it’s an intriguing departure from whatever constitutes the norm in today’s leftfield electro.