Even before a note of music had been heard from Daniel Lopatin’s latest Oneohtrix Point Never album, Garden of Delete, it was clear that the electronic artist’s new record was going to be a weird one.
Consider, for instance, the cryptic album announcement, which came packaged with a .pdf file that noted how Lopatin had apparently started a band with an alien named Ezra. An interview between the two “friends” had Ezra asking if an upcoming track called “Ezra” was named after him, and if that counts as “a troll move.” It was a winking hint that the whole promo run behind the album could very well be considered the same.
If that weren’t weird enough, an elaborate, though “unofficial” YouTube page of midi stems from the album suggested that Garden of Delete was also inspired by a ’90s band called Kaoss Edge. To wit, no such band exists.
Then, of course, there’s the music itself. First tease “I Bite Through It” is beyond wild. In it, a tapestry of twitchy electronics morph into what sounds like a free jazz guitarist’s mid-seizure freak out on a progressively detuning acoustic six-string. Add to that a few EKG-spiking blasts of metal-geared distortion, and you have yourself a right bizarre introduction to Lopatin’s latest LP.
On the whole, the rest of Garden of Delete stands neck and neck with that out-there experiment. The aforementioned “Ezra” is an early ear-grabber that bends a skittering, Capcom-celebrating chiptune melody with watery string textures. “Sticky Drama” ups the stakes by bouncing from gentle, Steven Reich-styled piano ambiance into future days electro pop, and then towards a dark an cantankerous exploration of industrial music.”What’s wrong with the world today,” a vocal sample questions, just seconds before a brigade of robotic goblins choke and gurgle along to a blitz of digitized black metal blast beats. It’s intense, to say the least.
Elsewhere, Oneohtrix Point Never chops and screws lounge music on the micro-piece “ECCOJAMC1.” “Mutant Standard” eclipses us with paranoia via the haunting whirr of what may well be a chopper blade before obliterating bad vibes with a burst of anthemic, oscillated keyboard melodies.
Thematically, “Child of Rage” is grim from the get-go, as it includes a less-than-positive back-and-forth convo between an adult and a little kid whose brother is deathly afraid of him. Why? As the kid tells it: “because I injure him so much.” That said, the song is a soother, and delivers new age calmness through the gentle plunk of faux marimba.
More disturbing is the aptly-named “Freaky Eyes,” which should keep you awake all night via its collection of gothic pipe organs, speaker cone-busting drone guitar, and a ghoulish shudder of back porch wind chimes.
Despite Garden of Delete being so full of twisted sounds, Lopatin has managed to craft something
spectacularly beautiful out of the madness. Plush closer “No Good” is a lovely resolve, though it still comes across slightly warped. A vocoder-assisted R&B vocal sounds as if it were played through a dying boombox, with passionate lines like “I need you so bad” also coming bookended between ungodly belching sounds. After one final blast of white noise, it comes to a quiet close.
Garden of Delete has yielded a dozen forward-thinking pieces from Oneohtrix Point Never. Odds are it’ll stay fresh for years to come, or at least until Lopatin is ready to drop another futuristic LP. Who knows, maybe he and Ezra can track down the surviving members of Kaoss Edge for a full-album collaboration?
review by Gregory Adams