Review: Oneohtrix Point Never – MAGIC Oneohtrix Point Never

Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never has been keeping busy since we last spoke of him, from his continued composition work with The Safdie Brothers on Uncut Gems to some production credits on The Weeknd’s latest album After Hours. Now OPN has a new album of his own out called Magic Oneohtrix Point Never.

Get it? Magic One-oh-trix point never? 1-0-6.7? Magic 106.7? …Yeah it’s a reference to Boston’s Magic 106.7.

I didn’t fully get that naming at first, but it eventually came to me. Prior to the album’s release, OPN made the interesting decision to release the singles beforehand as SUITES. The first of these was the DRIVE TIME Suite, which featured 3 tracks including the single “Long Road Home” with Caroline Polachek, and then there was the Midday Suite with 5 tracks that does have something special I’ll mention later. At this point, OPN had dropped half the album before release. With the entire album being 16 tracks running approximately 47 minutes and some notable features, does Magic Oneohtrix Point Never make you wish for a radio station like that in your city?

The overarching motif of the album is exploring OPN’s entire career with bits and pieces of his previous albums such as the harpsichords on Age Of and the synths of Returnal among others. One track on here, “I Don’t Love Me Anymore” is said to be a Frankenstein’d track with bits of pop-punk, psych-rock and motorik blended into one song.

I can say as someone who doesn’t listen to the radio often, it’s a good concept, and the way it starts off with “Cross Talk I” does have that intro vibe like when you were playing Playstation 1 and the startup music came on. That’s what I felt those brief 23 seconds before it kicks into “Auto and Allo”. That song has some abrupt moments with the instrumental changes to the snap percussion with the synth and the stretchy vocal effects, and that’s when we get to “Long Road Home”: an electronic ballad with exquisite instrumental trimmings of harpsichord, string sections, and vocoders along with Caroline Polachek’s vocals.

Going into the next few tracks, Polachek also contributes vocals to “No Nightmares,” and there’s something pretty special here… the main vocal feature comes from none other than Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd. Yup, and not only that, he’s an executive producer on the record as well. “No Nightmares” carries that ’80s pop ballad atmosphere that Abel’s been doing as of late thanks to After Hours, and while this gets as poppy as they can, they aren’t getting it up and ready for pop radio.

There’s also “The Whether Channel” (heh, get it?) where the first half of the instrumentation sounds like the old Wii menu startup music, before diving into a full-on off-beat drop with rapper Nolanberollin doing these weird verses, and yet it matches the off-beat vibe from the instrumentation and it fits with the previous track “Bow Ecco” with its magnificent use of strings and harpsichord to create a repetitive calming pattern.

Speaking of repetition, I’m probably going to repeat myself on the production because of how great it sounds and a reminder of what OPN has done in his career. Album cuts like “Imago” and “Lost But Never Alone” immediately shot up to being some of my favorites to go back and listen to. The former has this weird looping string arrangement, and the latter gave me early Eccojams vibes with the sound resembling late 80s synth-pop. “Shifting” with Arca on vocals nails some genuinely eerie vibes, reminiscent of score works from John Carpenter and Wendy Carlos.

Magic Oneohtrix Point Never may not bring anything new to the table, but it does offer the highlights of what OPN has done in his career and continues to explore those sounds in depth. Listening to this album over and over makes me want to go back to his other works to get each experience, and I could say that this sounds like a sampler of his past works but it isn’t. It’s more of a tribute and a fitting one.

 

 

Final Verdict: Buy It. Tune in to Magic One.Oh.TRIX Point Never for your eclectic music needs!

Magic Oneohtrix Point Never is on Warp Records and is available on CD, vinyl, digital download and streaming services. You can buy the record via Bandcamp.

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