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Direckshun 12-24-2013 08:29 PM

The Worst Music Review Ever
I read Tiny Mix Tapes quite a bit, because they always review really out there music.

Typically, they do it well, but reviewing difficult music often means you have to have an expert command of language to convey what the music is and what makes it good.

Well, TMT designated Oneohtrix Point Never's R Plus Seven as the album of the year.

If you've ever heard Oneohtrix Point Never, it is really difficult music that couldn't be more obtuse if it tried. Many people question if what they do can be considered music at all. And whatever command TMT's writer had on the English language was decimated by OPN's difficult music.

Here was TMT's reasoning. I dare you to try to make your way through it:


Even when arpeggiating himself into the bleak, endless vistas of his early releases, cradling his dusty Juno-60 synth like a baby, Oneohtrix Point Never was never a retro-futurist. Daniel Lopatin’s concerns were on a more semiotic level, excavating the tropes of New Age music and recasting them into dark, sinister voyages from an unknown origin to an undetermined destination. It was a rescue mission, in a way, but by the time Replica was released — which was aided in large part by the conceptual/formal breakthrough that was Eccojams Vol. 1 — Lopatin had abandoned his tautological explorations for an exhibition of sampled loops and arch textual investigations. The gaze was replaced by fetishistic representation, the synth key by a vast digital archive, the musical note by TV commercials. But Lopatin’s concerns were similar: sensual verticality, the appropriation of the forgotten, the articulation of despair forged by the very tools that originally shaped our tainted, imperfect worldview.

If Replica was Lopatin’s conceptual magnum opus, then R Plus Seven was his crowning perceptual achievement, the moment he switched from theory to sensation. The album, more than any since Far Side Virtual (James Ferraro, 2011) and 札幌コンテンポラリー (情報デスクVIRTUAL, 2012), focused our attention not only on the actual sounds — the timbres, their affects — but also on our preconceptions that had once led us to dismiss MIDI presets and simulated software as “cheesy,” “generic,” and “inauthentic.” Lopatin knew that the sound of church organs (“Boring Angel”), digital horns (“Zebra”), “world music” percussion (“Americans”), double bass (“Problem Areas”), and synthetic choirs (“Still Life”) were already weighed down by historical and cultural baggage, but his approach here was materialist: these are sound objects, no more “real” or “fake” than any other. This resulted in no less than an unravelling of entrenched musical constructions, the removal of needlessly negative associations, and the reinvigoration of an entire host of sounds, whose faceless plasticity was both accentuated and recontextualized by stark contrasts and odd juxtapositions. It was indeed “still life,” in a simulated, staged kind of way, arranged sonic material whose very dimensional essence was wrought by the space between musical events, time expressing their material existence by default.

But this was time according to Daniel Lopatin, and in Lopatonian time, the affect was characterized by gaseous exhales, angelic crescendos, and narrative carrot-dangling, all of which constituted an oblique momentum hinged on sonic inertia and tonal compression rather than rhythmic trajectory and melodic desire. The march was forward, but it was stuttered and unpredictable, oftentimes abruptly and unceremoniously short-circuited by chopped vocal samples (“Still Life”), emergency tones (“Americans”), and anonymous sweeps (“Inside World”), just before decay and decompression could finish the stories. This wormhole effect, especially to the degree that it was employed, was jarring, frustrating, completely manipulative. But it also meticulously reinforced the present, with our minds tuning out and our bodies attuning themselves to the jagged edits that stood in for an aesthetics of failure. The resulting environment was rigid and claustrophobic, but also surreal and exaggerated, where sax tones extended artificially long and choir voices scaled complex melodies in impossibly quick succession, where even the sounds of nature — ambient birdcalls, splashing water — were subjected to Lopatin’s warped touch. In the face of such aggressive production, the album’s peculiar geometry raised topological questions concerning boundary and continuity, with these sound objects liquefying, morphing, mutating, conjoining, pulsating, bubbling into and out of one another in an incestuous freakshow orgy of contoured tones. Nothing felt fixed or comfortable, and everything felt amorphous, fluid, implied. Everything felt slightly off.

And in 2013, slightly off was exactly what we needed. Let’s face it: Lopatin is an archaeological exploiter, a sound fetishist, an appropriation artist who so clearly understands music production and how audiences respond to sonic stimuli that one might be suspicious of his aims. But while there is nothing wrong with splashing cold water on your audience, Lopatin wasn’t interested in an antagonistic, conceptual critique here, and he certainly wasn’t launching an attack on the complacency of his audience. There was no front, no theoretical framework, no need to understand Schwizgebel, Oulipo, Latour, or speculative realism. His primary aim with R Plus Seven was to simply create something beautiful using a language that challenged and seduced him. The result? A swarm of listeners rallying around a digital saxophone preset, which programmatically rose to the occasion and programmatically affected us wholesale.
Tell us how far you made it before you threw your hands up and said "seriously, this is pretty much pure bullshit."

Person who makes it the farthest through this argle-bargle wins this thread.

Fishpicker 12-25-2013 03:12 PM

i didn't make it past arpeggiating

Fire Me Boy! 12-25-2013 04:13 PM

Well, I got through the second graf. I don't know what any of it meant, but I read the words.

Bowser 12-25-2013 04:44 PM

I got to retro-futurist and had a case of this

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