When electronic producer Daniel Lopatin isn’t inventing Vaporwave (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unN7QvSWSTo), he’s usually operating under his pseudonym Oneohtrix Point Never, under which he’s made some really boundary pushing explorations of sample based music. Generally, his music is a really glitchy and unpredictable collage of samples, coupled with atmospheres that Daniel cooks up himself. One moment you could be hearing a deep ambient texture, and then the next thing you know you’re listening to a glitched out vocal sample. It’s wild stuff. However, this new album here is a bit different. While his previous records were like big splatter paintings where seemingly anything can go anywhere, “Garden of Delete” seems to pay a bit more attention as to where each individual brush stroke goes, which is nice, because if Daniel had released another album of pure sonic incoherence (I mean that in a good way), it wouldn’t feel as special. And boy is “Garden of Delete” special.
When I suggest that “Garden of Delete” is more structured, I’m only speaking relatively. The music here is still wild, unpredictable, and on first listen pretty hard to make heads or tails of. The eight minute “Mutant Standard” is a perfect example of this, as this track is a violent roller-coaster that jerks you around from one section to the next. It’s also one of Daniel’s harshest songs in recent years. The opening is built off of quickly played little computerized drum sounds, and as Daniel sucks the reverb out of them, the sound becomes really disorienting because these sounds are just hammering away in your ear. Not one of the prettiest moments on the record, but entertaining all the same. There are other louder and brasher moments to be found here as well, like “Sticky Drama,” which is based off of an overblown and fuzzy metal sample, with these really melodic chip-munked vocals thrown on top that lend this song a very interesting sound. It wouldn’t be far off to say that this is Daniel’s boldest, loudest, and most upfront album since 2010’s “Returnal.” However, as this is Oneohtrix Point Never, there are a lot of stunning ambient and atmospheric sections as well. This is particularly apparent on the closer, “No Good,” which is my favorite song here. Really, this song lends its beauty to its absolutely gorgeous chord progression that perfectly plays the album out in a really sweet but slightly melancholy fashion.
The decision to close the album in such a way just goes to show that Daniel is a master of dichotomy: on “Garden of Delete” he balances the unsettling with the beautiful, the strange with the familiar, and the upfront with the abstract. His songs are multi-faceted sonic journeys full to the brim with memorable moments, like the Roger Rodier sample on “Freaky Eyes,” the grainy synths that open up “Animals,” and the glitched out and manipulated vocals on “Ezra.” “Garden of Delete” showcases a sound that Daniel’s been working with for many years, but refined to a crazy degree. For all of its inaccessibilities, “Garden of Delete” is a massively rewarding and detailed listen. It’s also clearly one of the best albums of the year.
Standout Tracks: “Ezra” “Sticky Drama” “Mutant Standard” “Freaky Eyes” “No Good”