Daniel Lopatin’s second release on Warp as Oneohtrix Point Never is hell-bent on defying expectations. A song like “Ezra” begins with cut-up, recognizable motifs but becomes destroyed by diversions into heart-pounding 16-bit synth chases and vocal snippets emerging from its distorted folds. “I Bite Through It” engages in pop-rock structure yet mocks it at the same time, its sharp notes arranged neatly in sets of eight, which are broken up by a hard-hitting beat and more scenic portions, its tones varying without rhyme or reason across the song’s taut three minutes and 17 seconds. Similarly, the guttural vocals and laser-beam synths exploding out of “Sticky Drama” achieve EDM-style release even as its brutal middle portion feels insanity-inducing. But the need to step away now and then only proves the album’s power. Part of Garden of Delete’s strength is its ability to temper its dislocating sense of confusion with clear reference points that help the listener find their balance. The smoky, hollowed-out beginning of “Freaky Eyes” gives way to pipe organs, sudden swells and noises that skitter around like beetles, making it feel like a horror movie soundtrack collage. “Lift’s” disembodied vocal bits and layered piano runs feel alien but are lovely nonetheless. The more pronounced vocals on “Animals” make it easily noticeable, but it would be a standout regardless, its tones disintegrating beautifully while a pitch-shifted vocal comes in and out of static in a way not entirely different from Radiohead. Oneohtrix Point Never is an acquired taste that occasionally feels like it needs Cliff’s Notes to fully grasp. But it’s undoubtedly some of the most intelligent, forward-thinking music being made today. Those willing to take the plunge will be duly rewarded.
Tim Hecker, Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist
Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never’s Instrumental Tourist brings out the best in two major figures in electronic music, producing a musical endeavor that’s as interested in pleasing its audience as it is turning over new stones. “Uptown Psychedelia’s” mechanical noise ebbs in and out while an eastern-influenced synth line wriggles chaotically. While more glacially paced, “Scene From a French Zoo” eschews the notion that ambient music need be peaceful or serene; its foreboding tone indicates some unstated melancholy. “Vacation for Thomas Mann” grows more ethereal as the pair set their synths skyward. Appropriately titled “Intrusions” tracks back to themes introduced in “Uptown Psychedelia” with industrial noise bursts, though it retains the ethereal feel of “Vacation for Thomas Mann,” until it gradually gets nastier and disintegrates. “Whole Earth Tascam” builds tension with noise and synthesized vocals before breaking apart to the sound of birds chirping, but then it gets even tenser than before. The song’s intriguing push-and-pull makes it the most soundtracky song on the album and definitely a highlight. “GRM Blue II” makes for a quick, strangely melodic respite full of glassy tones, while the more aggressive “GRM Blue III” is full of squelching sounds like an alien response to earthling radio signals, challenging the listener as the song stretches to nearly six minutes. The albums final tracks continue pushing the album’s ethereal and unsettling qualities in seemingly equal measure, particularly on the Eastern touches and wind instruments of “Grey Geisha,” never losing listener attention, though Instrumental Tourist can be a demanding listen. By keeping things unfussy and not overly layered, Hecker and Lopatin create excitement in their interplay. Their union proves not to be a collective patting on the back but rather another notch in the post of excellence for both artists.
The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for some blockbuster releases from the likes of Green Day, who are releasing their second two of three albums this year; pop stars Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Lana Del Rey; and high-profile indie releases from Scott Walker, Brian Eno and Atoms for Peacel. See highlights of albums up for preorder at Amoeba.com below; a full-list of available preorders is here.
Brian Eno – Lux
CD $14.98 available now
LP $25.98 due 12/11
Consisting of four LP-side-length pieces, the latest from the electronic music pioneer (and one-time Roxy Music member) falls into Eno’s ambient canon. Eno also recently developed an iPhone app called Bloom, which allows the average person to construct their own ambient music without knowledge of how to program or play an instrument.
Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day