Oneohtrix Point Never
After 2010's critically lauded Returnal, Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) was, alongside Emeralds, credited with spearheading the recent re-interest in kosmische- and kraut-inspired, synthesizer-based music. Anyone expecting a refinement or continuation of that will certainly be thrown for a loop, though long-time listeners of OPN probably won't notice a sizeable shift in sound when first putting on Replica. Opening track "Andro" is a warm intro laced with cloud surfing synths and water-y tones that glide easily underneath ― not too different from anything on Returnal or Rifts. After easing the listener in, Replica takes an abrupt and decidedly glitchy turn, which then rarely relents for the next 40 minutes. "Power of Persuasion" is a series of beautiful, short piano loops that intersect with majestic synths, while "Sleep Dealer" utilizes a sample of someone repeatedly enjoying a sip of soda that rides upon rising choral washes. The short samples that provide his newfound use of rhythm are all clipped from TV commercials, so it's this re-using of disposable culture, placed inventively alongside his signature synth moves and melancholy piano, which makes this record so unique and, unlike previous outings, difficult to define. While it's certainly not an easy voyage, Replica is a truly innovative sound world that rewards the listener upon repeated plays.
Replica marks an obvious turning point from Returnal, sounding thoroughly modern compared to the kraut- and kosmische-influenced records of your past. Recent artists that utilize short samples from specific sources such as Matthew Herbert, Matmos or Akufen can be heard. Are those touchstones for you or just a coincidence?
Yeah, I got really into all those guys back in early college, and I guess they were stored in the back of my head. What I really wanted to do for Replica was create a more thought-out, arranged and prog-y version of echo jams [Lopatin's alter ego, where he remixes pop songs to the point of oblivion], but combine it with what I was already doing with OPN.
I read in an interview you did in 2009 that you didn't know how to make "pro" music. After recording this record in a proper studio for the first time, do you still feel this way?
In some ways, yeah, definitely. Prior to this record, I had never even worked in a proper studio. Having that experience and access, as well as working closely with Al Carlson [Games, St. Vincent], our go-to engineer and mixing guy, totally changed my life. I still went about the OPN record in a way that limited my choices as to what kind of studio mischief I wanted to get into. I really didn't want to get bogged down in technical details, plus I really wanted it to feel like a flowing, organic thing. The thing that was missing on previous records was that I wasn't really utilizing frequency range that well. All of my stuff was really mid-band-heavy. That suited the music and it worked for those records, but I really needed to take the leap for this because I wanted the sounds on this record to be dynamic. All of this stuff I didn't really know how to do by myself. That being said, I guess I still don't know how to make a pro record by myself, but now I know what goes into one, as well as what options can improve things.
Can you go back to recording at home now that you've made the leap into professional recording?
I thought about that too. Yeah, I think I could because there are certain sorts of OPN compositions that lend themselves really well to being recorded at home. I'm definitely not snobby about it now that I've experienced that. I was extremely grateful and lucky to be able to record the record the way that I did. I made sure going into it, especially with a contract involved for a new record, that the studio was part of it. If it never happens again, it's not going to discourage me from making records, and I think I can make way better records at home after having learned a few things.
What instruments have you added to your arsenal since Returnal?
I was trying to figure out a compact synth situation for my live show and I approached Robert Lowe of Lichens about it. He said I have to check out the Yamaha CS-01 keyboard. It's a tiny analogue monosynth from the early '80s that's super-light and small. I bought it for the purpose of having something transportable, but I loved it so much that I started using it quite a bit on the record. There is also a lot of Wurlitzer electric piano on the record, which is totally new to me. There was also a lot of stuff lying around the studio that got used here and there.
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