Ten Digital Nations
Things certainly seem to be coming up roses for Oneohtrix Point Never as of late. Fresh off having a hand in composing the score for the Sofia Coppola vehicle, The Bling Ring, the inventive beats and bloops of Daniel Lopatin are making their debut for Warp Records with this new album, R Plus Seven. An adventurous yet compact series of ten tracks, Lopatin must have realized that he needed to make a strong move with these compositions– a real kitchen sink effort.
It’s easy to overwhelm a virgin-eared listener in the realm of digital music, as the format is wide open, but the careful composer and editor knows how to bewilder, challenge and delight at the same time. “Americans” is the kind of track that might scare away those ears not yet attuned, with its multifaceted sections and sonic contrasts. However, the samples and beats come at the ear so uniquely shaped and dispensed that one’s curiosity can’t help but be piqued.
The same could be said for many of the tracks, but the real adventure is discovering the little unique worlds in each one. Opener “Boring Angel” is largely a synth driven affair that somehow initially manages to merge tones alternately reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” and the stadium organ at a hockey game. Building on top of a propulsive and hectic drum pattern, it is an auspicious way to begin the album. “Zebra” has an introductory dance-pop flair that enthralls with its bright synth before changing directions midway for moodier pastures. However, their contrast is enlivened by the obvious care that went into both. Things don’t merely sit on a single organ chord to give reprieve from one section to the next. Instead, each section prepares the listener for a new idea or texture.
“Chrome Country,” as the title might imply, represents a mix of the worlds on display throughout the album, and provides one of the album’s true standout moments. It switches between moody and heroic sounding synth, and crystallizes some of the ideas from the lesser developed—though still intriguing— tracks like the aural sketch, “He She,” and provides a fuller landscape for them to thrive in.
By coming out, guns blazing with “Chrome Country,” Lopatin has firmly asserted his powers as an inventive composing force. R Plus Seven is a wild and exotic textured ride for any ear, nonetheless one unprepared for the journey. However, substance over style is key here; even though the style is bombastic and challenging, the substance strongly anchors itself to subconscious of this generation’s tastes and interests.