“It made me realise I wanna be in the world,” said Daniel Lopatin after touring with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. ‘Garden Of Delete’ is the album that was born out of this idea – the record that he wants “the kid that works at the mall to like.”
It was a predictably unpredictable move. Shapeshifting has always been at the heart of what he does and his Oneohtrix Point Never project has seen him experiment with radical new sounds and textures with almost every record. We’ve had the analogue synths of ‘Returnal’, the hypnotising loops of ‘Replica’ and ‘R Plus Seven’, his first for Warp, saw him exploring a more synthesized computer sound.
So is this music for the kid at the shopping centre? One listen in and you realise this is not a record that will be blasting out of Primark stores. Because, if ‘Garden of Delete’ is his accessible ‘pop’ album, it’s not like one ever heard before.
Taking ‘R Plus Seven’’s synth sound, it drags it slightly nearer to the top of the pop charts – but that still remains a million miles away. Synths bounce around like demented pinballs, striking mirrors and going off at weird directions. From the stop start of the burbling ‘Ezra’ it’s in the world but also outside of it. It sounds like a soundtrack to a demented new level on Mario Kart.
The warped, buzzsaw R’n’B of ‘Sticky Drama’ is mesmerising before it falls apart into a blitzkrieg of Technicolor reverb and 8-bit rainbow vomit, while ‘Mutant Standard’s name basically explains its sound. Doomy, warped and clattering, it’s an attack on the senses – like sonic elastic, it stretches and bursts forward over its eight minutes, pulsating and almost joyous. Elsewhere, ‘Freaky Eyes’s’ weird church organ hymn morphs halfway though into wobbling, falling-downstairs synths and an auto-tuned scream.
If all this sounds surreal, the listener’s soon so immersed in the world that he’s created that it all seems normal. It’s both playful and anxious, full of pensive tension that comes paired with moments of release. There’s a confidence here – to push things, to have textures rubbing up against one another, to leave an idea half way through a song and to shift it into something else entirely.
It ends with ‘Lift’ which feels genuinely touching – transcendental almost, in a weird way, – and closes with ‘No Good’, a track that sounds oddly like Bon Iver and Kanye duetting while on an acid trip. He may not be in our world completely yet but you should keep making the trip to his: it really is a trip.