For the past three weeks, I’ve attempted to write this review about five times with the same events happening. First, I create a strong opening line that describes my feeling about the album, followed by a point that talks about the artist, but by the time I get around to actually describing why I feel that way about the music, I cannot discover the words I want to use. Claustrophobic? Spacey? Droning? Jagged? It just goes to show how professional and experienced I am at this. When I think I have it all together, I’m thrown a curve ball in the shape of R Plus Seven and my confidence is shot completely. Not to worry! This time I’ll finish my thought before I’m stolen the words.
Daniel Lopatin is a Brooklyn-based experimental musician, who goes by the name Oneohtrix Point Never when recording his.. music. Now Lopatin is renown in the music world for really pushing the boundaries, not by appropriateness, or by outrageous stunts, but by releasing just plain odd music that sells quite well for an indie artist. I can recall my first review ever being the 2011 album, Replica, and I wasn’t quite sure if I enjoyed it or not. I mean, I gave it a good review, but for a long time I wasn’t convinced that what I was listening was music. Now Lopatin isn’t the most experimental musician out there, but he definitely creates amazing patchworks with odd layouts.
R Plus Seven is Lopatin’s fourth record, and it utilizes a lot of plunderphonics from Replica, but with the unexpectedness of Returnal. What’s so interesting about R Plus Seven is how its Lopatin’s oddest album yet, but also the catchiest. Now catchy doesn’t go hand in hand with OPN, but hear me out. On the opening, “Boring Angel”, a rumbling organ note is held until, yes you read correctly, a steady click from the snare head. Another is how the climax of “Still Life” actually follows hook with synth-based riff of chords. “Zebra” also opens with a staccato of high pitched notes that continue to build and layer. I can run these examples for ages, but that’s the excitement behind this album. It catches you off guard even if you think you know what’s about to happen. Think Walter White’s mind in music.
I would say R Plus Seven is the perfect soundtrack for Breaking Bad’s final season. It has the eeriness of the dark and dreary moments, as well as the flourishing, somewhat happy(er?) scenes. I would never describe Lopatin’s music as happy, but it’s content, much like Vince Gilligan’s intention with his epic show. The way his music on this album shifts from quietly chugging along on a long, droning note and immediately jumps into a whole new sound is frightening. At points (“Along”), it can be hard to handle. I get so attached to the one repeating sound that I feel taken advantage of when Lopatin just dumps a great idea and moves on. It took many listens to realize that R Plus Seven has many dynamics and layers to it.
Now I completely understand when I get a comment that says, “This is hipster shit”. I get it. I don’t think I fully grasp what Lopatin’s intentions are with R Plus Seven. It’s uneasy, awkward, aggravated, at points pure noise, but what draws me back time and time again is the unique feeling of home and warmth from his nostalgic sounds. Lopatin understands himself better than we do, and we just have to deal with it. I feel that he doesn’t expect us, nor does he want us to think ‘I like your music because I know what its like’ because we don’t. We all have different experiences, and Lopatin is providing us the soundtrack to assist with them.