Experimental NYC artist Daniel Lopatin is finally reaping the fruits he sowed. Not only is he at the peak of his fame, with his critically acclaimed last album “Replica” laying the ground for the attention and anticipation he gets these days, but he is also at a decisive point, musically. While he was mostly looking back all his musical career – beginning with his GAMES project with Joel Ford, out of which something like the “Heaven Can Wait” mixtapes emerged, in which the two of them slowed down and “renewed” mid-80ies Euro Pop hits. Then came his “Ecco Jams” under the Chuck Person moniker, where the tracks from that era were chopped up and strangely reassembled, founding the Vaporwave genre. And finally the way he constructed the droned-out tracks on “Replica” out of old advertisement material: Lopatin always renewed something old and, accidentally, laid the ground for other artists to live off the fields he refertilized.
But now something has changed. It was already audible in the first few seconds of “Problem Areas”, the first single off of “R Plus Seven” – in the way those crisp and clear synths swirled and reverberated – and the rest of the record confirms it: Oneohtrix Point Never is looking towards the future now. He no longer mainly relies on old samples to build his tracks, but has reached a point where he constructs his own world, his own present/presence. Other artists had reached this point already, like Zomby, Fatima Al-Qadiri or – most prominently – James Ferraro, who put out some of the most futuristic sounding albums and EPs of the last few years. But Lopatin does them one over, by inventiveness, by cohesiveness, and by attitude. His attitude is that of an artist, not a musician, in that it has an openess, creativity and self-assuredness very few musicians are able to display. It is “genius”, in the technical meaning of the word as “being inspired by a divine spirit”. Maybe Lopatin picked this up by moving out of the clubs and concert halls, and into museums and art festivals. Or maybe it was there all along.
In the end “R plus Seven” feels like modern worship music, an impression that is enforced by the organ sounds and choirs. But neither the object of that worship, nor the way the service is run are clear – but those don’t really matter. The album simply being a jubilee is enough in itself, and as such it lifts spirits and bestows meaning upon the listener. Expectations were high for this album, and they weren’t disappointed – in a year full of musical highlights, this is one of the best for me. Below is the latest video (with extra vocals) off the record, and head over here to listen to the whole thing before it drops via Warp on October 1st.