Written by: Kyle Roe
Listening to Oneohtrix Point Never is like staring into another kid’s toy box when you were very young. Before you look inside you almost expect to see all the same toys you have at home, but in reality the contents are completely different. You might spot a few toys you own, but scattered and marked in ways you’ve never seen before. The rest are completely foreign to you.
Hearing his latest album, Garden of Delete is a similar experience. You’ll hear fragments of sampled instrumentals that sound normal, maybe even familiar, but arranged and paired with other instrumentals that you never imagined could have gone together. The result is often disjointed and crowded, with one chorus comprising of several successive instrumentals, almost like a found footage project.
Garden of Delete is definitely more off-kilter than most of Oneohtrix Point Never’s previous albums, and darker as well. The vocal samples in “Sticky Drama” are often distorted to the point of sounding like aliens doing pixelated black metal screams. The track “Child of Rage” begins with a child explaining to a therapist why her brother is afraid of her, responding, “Because I hurt him so much.” The keyboards in “Sdfk” are ominous and vast, like you’re staring into a dark, empty space, until it briefly breaks into what sounds like a muffled, frenzied drum solo with a strange voice faintly growling over it. The new sounds disappear as abruptly as they began as the album segues into the next song. Needless to say, Garden of Delete puts the mental in experimental.
That being said, Garden of Delete isn’t all creepy vibes and dark soundscapes. Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix’s real name) has a wide range of musical influences that shape his production. “Ezra” mixes together an a cappella of assorted vocal samples, a guitar riff straight out of an 80s power pop band, energetic video game music, and jazzy stand-up bass lines into layers of Lopatin’s spacious, static-like keyboards. “Mutant Standard” sounds like a throbbing, clubby trance song over ambient echoes and snippets of random city sounds. “Child of Rage” mixes South American drums with jazzy, syncopated guitar that is absolute ear candy, and recalls the complex jazz fusion-progressive metal style of Tosin Abasi. When his music isn’t melancholy, it’s hopeful.
Lopatin has a contradictory tendency to create music that sounds bright and dark at the same time; at the same moment. He has a talent for taking samples that wouldn’t normally sound good on the same track and playing them simultaneously, and sometimes those sounds emanate opposing vibes. The resulting dissonance only adds to the complexity of his music, filling space like a Wall of Sound recording that didn’t have to worry about radio airplay. The tracks can change from chaotic, yet delightful, intensity to calming, indica-heavy ambience in a heartbeat. If you’re in the mood for something different, dark, and yet chillingly beautiful then Garden of Delete is a mouse-click and a keystroke away (seriously just Google it).