I like to celebrate heroic and time-honored American tradition of making art without any financial ambition. Brooklyn-based producer Daniel Lopatin’s latest outing as Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus 7, shares a lot of characteristics with some of the coolest of electro-pop’s contemporary cool. The record floats in a crowd populated by the likes of Grimes, Doldrums, and any number of other tinny, kinda edgy pop melodists. The difference is, this is not pop. Not by a long shot.
Lopatin’s first release on the chronically progressive Warp label (home to Boards of Canada and Aphex twin, among others), R is a conceptually spastic, head-twisting oeuvre that screams composition as opposed to collection of songs. In fact, it’s impossible to separate any track from the whole without losing something from the narrative. Lopatin does an excellent job of setting the scene. The sounds he chooses, clinky old-fashioned chorus pads, rising tides of tonal fuzz, and general sonic bedlam, evoke a world at once crowded and incredibly lonely. Think of the city on a rainy day — 8 million people and they’re all inside.
Even though there aren’t any hits, so to speak, on the record, he clearly understands how to put together a song. “Still Life,” jarring as it is, has a clear climax, a clear structure, and it’s clearly gripping.