November 6, 2011

Album Review: Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica

What I've always found most enigmatic about Oneohtrix Point Never mastermind Daniel Lopatin is his lax acceptance to growing success ever since his 2010 breakthrough, Returnal made him a talking point on tastemaker sites despite the unconventional nature of his music. You look at Lopatin's unkempt hair, scruffy beard and stoner eyes, and it's peculiarly awesome that this is the same guy who has collaborated with songwriting sophistacateur, Antony Hagerty or has been approached by Rivers Cuomo for some production advice. It's not that he's afraid of success -- In fact, I'm sure he isn't -- but in a music industry where image always helps and playing the world's biggest festivals is a defining goal of "making it," Lopatin doesn't seem to be in any hurry to fulfill these expectations even though he certainly could. That said, it's fitting that his fifth and most high-profile release to date, Replica is an album that's as human as the man who made it.

Replica is a far more fragmented and less immediate listen than its predecessor Returnal was, which as it turns out is an admirable move to Lopatin's credit. Instead of delving into another black hole of spacey background music, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Boston experimentalist pieces together a thought-provoking reflection on mankind by using a library of '80s TV advertisements samples. Looped and interconnected by swampy drone, delicate piano strokes and synths fitting for a vintage journey through the computer age, the result is deliriously creepy time capsule based on human interaction over the the past 30 years. If you must label it, the apt term for Oneohtrix Point Never's fifth LP is a mood listen where interpretation is ambiguous, varied from listener to listener and detaching one track from the other can drastically change how you feel about it.

At the time of publishing, a few other critics have managed to disassemble Replica down to a science. In their takes, they quote lines ripped from obscure reads or heard in foreign films that 0.05% of the general population recognizes in hopes of validating Oneohtrix Point Never's pretensions as an artist. Not doubting there's any truth in what they write, but all this seems to go against Daniel Lopatin's intentions here on Replica. When you strip the LP away from of its backbone of noise, you're left with nothing aside from a pile of television advertisements -- Otherwise, words designed to speak to life's walking lowest common denominator. This is the album's greatest irony and the kind of double-take relativity that Daniel Lopatin doesn't seem interested in shaking despite his climbing stock. Managing to make the music world over-contemplate the complexity of Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica finds its meaning in simplicity, which in turn makes it cleverly human.

Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica will be released November 8, 2011 on Software / Mexican Summer Records.

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