GARDEN OF DELETE by Oneohtrix Point Never
Genre: Progressive Electronic
Favorite Tracks: “Sticky Drama,” “Mutant Standard,” “Animals,” “I Bite Through It,” “Freaky Eyes”
Daniel Lopatin has definitely made a name for himself in the electronic music community. Whether it be his solidifying of the vaporwave movement as Chuck Person or the praise his dense soundscapes as Oneohtrix Point Never receive, it’s hard nowadays to find a music fan who is not familiar with Lopatin and his style consisting of heavily manipulated voice samples and disturbing yet beautiful synths. Though not totally reliant on vocal snippets like 2011’s REPLICA, GARDEN OF DELETE provides a good amount of them that aid in creating an unforgettable atmosphere. Rather than funneling all of his talents into an incomprehensible mess like in R PLUS 7, there is a cohesive thread that fashions Lopatin’s sonic elegance. Elements of industrial and noise are definitely present, but not to the degree where they confuse or alienate. The album challenges but never attacks or bludgeons with stretches of atonality or screeches.
Every tone on GARDEN OF DELETE excels at being comfortably in line with the entirety of the album in energetic and accessible harmony. The sounds that surprise, and there are a ton of them seeing as how the whole OPN name has been attached to the sheer unpredictability of Lopatin’s work, fall into a distinct rhythm that a listener can easily consume. Even the few tracks that may seem like filler provide a good heap of engaging bits. The album’s introduction gives a brief glimpse at the first half’s onslaught of voices that both unnerve and humanize the project in the form of some unsettling chuckles. Of course, the track “ECCOJAMC1” takes a brief but touching look back at 2010’s ECCOJAMS VOL. 1, and the short track “SDFK” soothes right before the pulsating tidal wave of synths that is “Mutant Standard.” It is at this point, after a brief child behaviorist exchange aptly kicks off the track “Child of Rage,” where the use of vocal samples becomes a little more rare and the music turns much more dreamlike. As always, Lopatin never sticks with the same sound pattern for too long. In possibly the album’s best track, “Animals,” a strangely robotic voice melts into the tinny, haunted house synths with eerie high notes and hints of lower ones that loom vocoded in the background. The track feels like a morbid fable being read during a 1990’s trek through a virtual mansion of spooks.
As OPN, Lopatin is unparalleled and cuts no corners in developing a unique feel to his music, and this album is no exception. Many electronic producers, especially in recent years, tend to simply smush different artificial noises together to make piss poor electronic jambalaya. Having been at this for the better part of a decade, Lopatin knows how to correctly calculate how each sound will complement one another. When new flavors pop up, which is often, it never jars or takes you out of the moment the song wishes to establish. “Freaky Eyes” feels like midnight mass at a church in the 22nd century, then transitions seamlessly into a broadcast from outer space. If anything, the use of synthetic guitars may turn some away from the last few tracks, but GARDEN OF DELETE as a whole mixes everything else so well that this is easily overlooked. The album showcases Lopatin at a high point coming off of the success of the vaporwave sensation and showing other experimental electronic artists what’s what.