- Dan Lopatin has it all. The Brooklynite started out playing a Roland Juno-60 in tiny Boston gallery spaces, and now attends to a mini-empire—fostering young artists with his Software label, enjoying massive creative freedom from Warp, scoring films, and taking to the road with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. The latter experience shaped Garden Of Delete, a record that dares the listener to turn from its integration of garishly uncool grunge and symphonic metal with broad electronics. On his latest album as Oneohtrix Point Never, Lopatin grafts hi-definition new age and IDM into these genres, while also working with nylon-stringed prog and auto-tuned radio pop. Garden Of Delete's conceptual conceit involves an imagined collaboration with an alien adolescent named Ezra and a "hypergrunge" band called Kaoss Edge.
Lopatin aims to give highbrow and lowbrow genres equal footing on Garden Of Delete. He's compared synthesizers to paint in the past, and the second track, "Ezra," lays out his ridiculous palette. It begins with an OPN-by-numbers synth cut-up, which unexpectedly drops into a grungy guitar bridge before ramping into epic trance. Towards the end, he works in a cheap-sounding distortion—think Boss DS-1 pedals and Crate amps, the same setup aspiring teenage rockers would have used in the ‘90s. After a hat tip to his vaporwave-spawning Chuck Person alias ("ECCOJAMC1"), Lopatin introduces Ezra's auto-tuned voice amidst a scrum of blast beats and death metal vocals on "Sticky Drama."
It's Ezra's alien voice that cuts through GOD's layers of impenetrable humor. "Animals," OPN's first pop song, has a falsetto that puts it in league with Chief Keef and Bon Iver's Yeezus duet, "Hold My Liquor." Lopatin is at his best when he's striving towards beauty instead of trying to crack himself up. Take "Mutant Standard": starting with a minimal techno pulse, it unleashes a thrilling series of arpeggios four minutes in, freezing the listener in their radiant optimism. It's a big moment, but it's also the kind of "calm before the storm" trick used on "Boring Angel," a highlight of R Plus Seven. In fact, a lot of GOD's best parts could have come from previous albums. "Child Of Rage" builds on the hollow jazz club feel that made Replica's title track so distinctive. GOD's interest in questionable styles and its elaborate backstory seem designed to keep things interesting after the giant step forward that was R Plus Seven.
Lopatin has come far from his mid- to late-'00s synth explorations. As soon as he could, he began to express grander ambitions, bringing video artist Nate Boyce on tour to provide a focal point for what was then purely ambient music. Fast forward a few years to the guy in a Celtics hat scoring Sofia Coppola movies, touring with stadium-filling artists and signed to the iconic Warp Records, where he's made his two most unprecedented albums. That OPN can still sound wholly original while engaging with the mainstream—and in his own fucked up, tongue-in-cheek way—reiterates the strength of vision that brought him to this point.
04. Sticky Drama
06. Mutant Standard
07. Child of Rage
09. I Bite Through It
10. Freaky Eyes
12. No Good