Music

Oneohtrix Point Never: Garden of Delete

If you think Oneohtrix Point Never creates confusing music, try to decipher Garden of Delete's backstory.


Oneohtrix Point Never

Garden of Delete

Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2015-11-13
UK Release Date: 2015-11-13
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, spun a rather tangled yarn when providing context for his forthcoming album Garden of Delete. This included a five-page PDF file where he told an odd story of meeting a collaborator named "Ezra" and name-dropped an obscure band known as Kaoss Edge. Looking at the official website of Kaoss Edge, Oneohtrix Point Never fans went on to assume that it was a fake band that Lopatin just thought up one day. SoundCloud samples and a statement from the "hypergrunge" band's singer perpetuate any myth you like. As of this writing, nothing about this is substantiated. Lopatin gave his album a back-story that's a tough to swallow as reading his stage name out loud for the first time.

Lopatin can screw with us all he wants. Or he can do nothing at all because the music that he creates is challenging enough on its own. Listening to an Oneohtrix Point Never album straight through is not unlike a Frankenstein dissection. Electronic music already has a reputation, both good and not-so-good, of chop-shopping its songs together. Considering this, Lopatin still manages to stand out from the pack. Garden of Delete is another adventure of watching your own sense of subjectivity drown in a pool of confusion. Is this 45-minute mash of mush excellent, or merely okay? Are these songs meant to make me euphoric or paranoid? Are some songs stronger than others or is it possible to have the wrong "perception" of the whole thing? Also, did a new song just begin? I found myself thinking that again and again, even after listening to Garden of Delete for weeks. Sometimes Lopatin will randomly throw a rebooting sequence into a song without warning. Sometimes two seemingly unrelated ideas will find themselves to be neighbors in a single track. It's one great big What-The-Hell-Is-Happening moment that I dare you to play at your wedding reception.

The track that Oneohtrix Point Never tossed out first for all to hear is, "I Bite Through It", which is odd because it doesn't exactly distill the usual elements that artists will bottle up for an album's first taste. It's about as accessible/inaccessible as most of the other tracks, which is to say that different components of the music (tonality versus the sound of the synthesizer) are a little bit at odds with one another. When a rhythm is set, it's a manic-depressive one that sounds like a synthesizer stuck in a particular pulsating mode. This all drops away roughly halfway through, creates a vacuum for rubato pointillism, then restates the "theme" with a scathing set of scrapes. This pattern repeats once more with an even quieter passage. "I Bite Through It" fades out in confusion. Yet, I don't think this song has the greatest impact. No, if you're getting started with "I Bite Through It", then that's what you're doing -- just getting started.

Garden of Delete's beginning is far gutsier. The 29-second "Intro" sounds like a glitched-gilded goblin growling after it was rudely awakened by your finger pressing the PLAY button. "Ezra" gets things rolling spectacularly. Ghostly samples marking the downbeat, a perfectly-executed guitar arpeggio making up another sample, and a razor-sharp sky-high snyth attack combine to open up the song dazzlingly so. "Sticky Drama" would be more listener-friendly if it weren't for the industrial elements trying to smother the sped-up vocal samples. One such voice gets a moment all to its own as, when slowing down, you get a small glimpse of someone asking rhetorically what "is wrong with the world." The reason I leave out the question mark is because I don't know if it was a question or a statement.

Now that I think about it, that's a perfect parallel to draw for all of these electronic artists that sound like they want to go toe-to-toe with Salvador Dali. As abstraction spirals further and further away, can we hear the music as a some sort of firm declaration or as a rhetorical question that will just go on forever? Oneohtrix Point Never could be a sobering artist making "Mutant Strange" for the ages or the American echo of Shitmat waiting for people to catch on to the ruse. If you ever felt like getting to the bottom of it all, you can always corner Daniel Lopatin himself and ask who Ezra is and whether or not Kaoss Edge is real. But something tells me that straight answers to those questions, or any others that I have posed, come close to cracking the Oneohtrix Point Never nut. You're probably better off slipping into the jigsaw with as few questions as your ears will allow.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.