Oh, I have been waiting for something like this since I’ve starting doing music reviews on this site.
Musician Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never has been one of many musicians I’ve discovered while exploring more music in the electronic/ambient genre, and the great thing about him is that he doesn’t just stick to one style. After all, he was the pioneer of vaporware music as his influential alias Chuck Persons in Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1. He did put the — a e s t h e t i c — in those cuts along with dipping into more electropop/synthfunk with his other project Ford and Lopatin (formerly Games) with singer/childhood friend Joel Ford of Tigercity, of which you remember the one song “Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)” on the 2011 Adult Swim Singles Program.
Since then, he made countless projects such as albums, collaborations with other musicians like Tim Hecker, production for other musicians’ work like ANOHNI’s Hopelessness (alongside Hudson Mohawke) in 2016, and composing film scores like 2017’s Good Time, and now we are at his 9th (or maybe 10th) studio album Age Of (well, 3rd studio album and 4th project since signed with Warp Records), and we noticed for the first time in the single “Black Snow” that Lopatin is providing his own vocals into the album.
In fact, the vocals plays a major part as the ‘ultimate instrument’ in the album from how well he incorporates it into the songs, ranging from being mellow and ominous to powerful and epic with the signature electronic distortion we came to know in his music. While Lopatin provides his vocals, he also brought ANOHNI and Prurient into the fray, and their vocal contributions are stellar throughout the album. With ANOHNI, her contributions are on “Black Snow,” “We’ll Take It,” “Same,” & “Still Stuff That Doesn’t Happen.” Out of those four, “Same” is my favorite performance of hers, as the song instantly intensifies in the 50 second mark, and I did notice ANOHNI’s voice beginning to break, and it is that damn commanding along with the lyrics:
Fool to dream machine to dust
Fool to dream machine to dust
Then it’s followed by what I assumed is Prurient’s screaming back-up vocals as he is featured on three songs with the other two (alongside “Same”) being “Babylon” and “Warning,” and his performance overall is more low-key in the album than ANOHNI was. I had to search on what tracks he contributed on, and I was still satisfied with it.
The more I look into this album and its trivia, the more fascinated I get with it. The first example is “The Station,” as this was a song that was originally pitched to Usher. Yes, that Usher. Usher Raymond. Upon listening to the track, the sound would be something that Usher might stick his toes into. There’s “Toys 2,” which also has an interesting story to it. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he pitched it as ‘what if he scored a Pixar movie,’ and I got to thinking, “Is Toy Story 4 still a thing?” The other thing about the song is that it serves an imaginary soundtrack to a hypothetical sequel to that 1992 Robin Williams movie that I actually remember seeing a few times on cable, and yet I haven’t seen it in a while. The first half did give me a glimpse of what I remember from the movie with this magical circus and awe of wonderment, and the 2nd half gave me that stuttering, low-key, ambient sound that plays and gives a lot of moody ambient chills.
Oh, and of course, I need to talk about the production. While it’s stated that vocals are used as an instrument, you can’t forget about the MIDI harpsichords, pianos and the synthesizer, and once again, while it has that OPN signature touch to it, the way its composed here sounds beautiful like a movie score as I mentioned before on “Same” where it went from 0 to epic right in the 49 second mark, but Lopatin also had help on this as well. He got instrumentalists Kelsey Lu and Eli Keszler to contribute on some tracks as well as James Blake on additional production and mixing.
There’s no other words of saying this but I love this album. I absolutely adore every single second of this, and upon listening to this about for 3 straight days, I just love everything from the production, the way the vocals are used and the thinking process and pure experimentation of it. It is a definite contender to be in Top 5 at the end of the year and
Final Verdict: Buy it. OPN did it again with this one.
Age of is available on CD, Vinyl, digital download and streaming on Warp Records.