Brooklyn-based producer Oneohtrix Point Never’s fourth studio effort, R Plus Seven, has been described by his camp as the closest he’s ever gotten to anything resembling a traditional song structure, which tells you everything you need to know about just how abstract, challenging and wonderfully strange his previous work has been.
Despite the transfer from a small-time indie label to Warp Records and an unlikely venture into Hollywood with his score to Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, Daniel Lopatin’s follow-up to 2011’s Replica is still a bewildering and highly fragmented affair which is more likely to leave you spinning around in a daze than singing along in unison.
Indeed, there’s so much going on here that it’s almost impossible to keep up. “Zebra” begins with a vibrant blend of stuttering acid house synths before making way for what appears to be a wasp buzzing over a Gregorian choir. Elsewhere, “Inside World” blends a series of sharp intakes of breath with everything from oriental chimes to yearning strings to what could well be a didgeridoo.
The church organ chords which kick off the jammed arcade game soundtrack of opener “Boring Angel” and finish the cinematic closer, “Chrome County,” lend R Plus Seven some sense of cohesion, as do the warm multi-layered Enya-esque vocals which surround its ten sound collages.
But even when there are the occasional signs of a tangible melody, Oneohtrix Point Never can’t resist twisting it beyond all recognition—most notably on “Still Life”, which initially hints at a soothing New Age production before tuning out to the kind of nightmarish rave which makes Crystal Castles seem like kids party favorites; and “Problem Areas,” which borrows the pitch-shifted hook from Nu Shooz’s post-disco classic “I Can’t Wait” and combines it with trippy layers of arpeggiated synths and startling bursts of brass.
R Plus Seven, therefore, isn’t for the faint-hearted. But Oneohtrix Point Never has undoubtedly created one of the most absorbing, if utterly baffling, electronica records of the year.