Saturday, December 12, 2020

Magic - Oneohtrix Point Never album review

Oneohtrix Point Never was always one of those artists that I should like in theory, whether it be because of my love of radio or the omnipresence of chillwave in my life I understood that Daniel Lopatin (0PN) made good music. It just so happened to be good music that I never felt that I truly ‘got’. As someone who experiences music mainly through an emotional lens I have always struggled to truly appreciate more electronic and experimental genres but the wave of positive feedback for his album ‘Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’, from Pitchfork to NME, made me feel like I was missing out and that it was time I gave it another shot. And I have never been so glad that I did. 

I can honestly say that this was the first time an album in this genre really made sense to me, it was less like a listening experience and (at risk of sounding like Jeremy from Peep Show) more an entirely transcendent experience. The best way to describe this work would be as “genuinely psychedelic”. It is an album you can see clearly as well as hear. 

The album itself is the culmination of Daniel Lopatin’s entire discography, it gives the impression that the listener is skipping through radio stations, a nod to the origin of the name Oneohtrix Point Never. It’s self-referential and serves as an entry point for new listeners whilst also rewarding long-term fans with a work that entirely ties all of his music together. 

One of the things that makes this such an amazing album for music fans that put weight on the emotional punch a track can pack, is that it is nostalgic to its core. While Lopatin is known for building a whole career around nostalgia, this is the first album of his that looks back instead of looking forward and maybe it’s just the year of lockdown that has made it feel like my life is entirely digital but the way it handled the theme of our relationship with the digital world was really emotionally raw. 

The emotional weight is carried by some of the most impressive production work I have seen in recent times, where the pop compositions drift in and out of experimental electronic moments seamlessly. It remains true to the artist by being a genuinely experimental record but in having very strong and evocative compositions it allows a wider range of listeners to engage on various levels. This marrying of pop and electronic music was helped by having veteran ‘emotional but make it danceable’ The Weeknd as an executive producer on the album, with glimpses of his artistic voice coming through on tracks like ‘Lost but Never Alone’ and ‘I Don’t Love Me Anymore’. That being said, this is one of those albums I would not be able to pick a highlight from since it functions so well as a complete work. 

I strongly recommend this album to anyone who feels like they might have written off more experimental music as a harder listen than most, it might take a moment or two but as a fresh convert I can safely say, this album is magic.  

-Dilara Ball

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