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Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica

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Artist: Oneohtrix Point Never

Album: Replica

Label: Mexican Summer

Review date: Jan. 19, 2012


Oneohtrix Point Never - "Sleep Dealer" (Replica)


Listening to “Nassau,” the sixth track on Replica, I thought to myself, "This sounds like someone decided to strip out everything that rules about The Alan Parsons Project.” I then googled "Oneohtrix Point Never Alan Parsons Project.” Sure enough, I found this quote from Mr. Lopatin, regarding his Games/Ford & Lopatin project: "We were making this smooth-rock, Alan Parsons Project-style shit, and then it completely got sliced and diced, mistakes happened in Pro Tools, and it became something else[.]"

Games is supposed to sound like fake party music, but I still think the quote applies to OPN. Rather than make something that actually rules, like the Alan Parsons Project, Lopatin needs to “slice and dice” and allow mistakes to happen. On every OPN release, he seems compelled to “complicate” or “negotiate” music and sounds from the past. This is tricky; if the music lacks exceptional smarts or cleverness, it just sounds like a bull session. Lopatin is certainly not a master conceptualists along the lines of Nicolas Collins or Keith Fullerton Whitman. These are guys whose releases sound inevitable, rather than self-consciously determined. Nor does he craft cheeky juxtapositions, like Heatsick or the 502 video for Teeth’s “Shawty.” He doesn’t even make straightforward, harmless throwback jams like Gavin Russom. He’s in a pointless, pleasure-free world in which sucking out the fun from The Alan Parsons Project is a good idea.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. In a recent Pitchfork interview about the making of Replica, Lopatin discusses how he spent $100 on DVD compilations of old commercials and mined them for samples. He then says, “It’s depressing that people would buy these DVDs of old commercials and watch them while eating Cheetos.” Come on, man! In what universe is chilling with some Cheetos and watching old Folgers commercials more depressing than listening to an Oneohtrix Point Never record? Granted, Lopatin isn’t entirely responsible for David Keenan and the mountains of press that force me to take his work seriously. And, if it isn’t clear from the above, it isn’t easy to pin him to a particular sound or idea. I just don’t think that past-worshiping bull sessions are compelling.

That being said, compelling ideas aren’t always necessary and bull sessions can be fun. Take off your thinking cap, and Replica reveals mostly pleasant, mellow ambient jams. With the exception of closing track “Explain,” the kosmiche synths aren’t as crucial; instead, Lopatin opts for unsteady, loop-based soundscapes, with cut-up, inscrutable vocal samples strongly integrated. The inscrutability is a good thing, because when clarity does emerge on “Remember”, it’s laughable. Seriously, a loop of someone saying “remember” over some stately, ostensibly dead serious synths? I’ve heard that some folks believe that OPN is just a brilliant, stone-faced prank; “Remember” strongly supports that theory.

In the end, it’s all good. Enjoying OPN involves adjusting your expectations and realizing that Lopatin isn’t Nicolas Collins or The Alan Parsons Project. I think the ultimate takeaway is this: Replica is fine, there are far worse things out there, and we all need to stop reading articles about Lopatin.



By Brad LaBonte

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