Daniel Lopatin's melancholic melodies make for one of this year's most moving albums, writes Karen Ka Ying Chan.
‘Replica’ is Boston-born, Brooklyn-based artist Daniel Lopatin’s sixth album as Oneohtrix Point Never, yet, perhaps a little surprisingly, his first produced in a studio. It follows his 2009 2CD compilation ‘Rifts’ that gathered together works from his first three limited edition albums and last year’s celestial ‘Returnal’. While OPN’s territory has always been the sonic landscape, with the achingly beautiful ‘Replica’ he turns his eyes away from the skies to create his earthiest, most evocative album to date – and one of this year’s most moving.
It marks a radical departure in his working processes. Where before Lopatin’s synth was the centre of his universe, on ‘Replica’ it is merely accessory. Instead samples, loops and piano – which is, of course, the synth’s organic predecessor – are the tools with which he sculpts. Lopatin spoke at length about the making of ‘Replica’ with engineer/mixer/childhood pal Al Carson on this site, discussing, amongst other things, samples from old coffee commercials and Lopatin’s initial reluctance to use the piano. While their language is that of jamming – experimenting to find “interesting relationships” between the sounds and samples – ‘Replica’ is actually the closest Lopatin has come to traditional song structure. The melodies skirt sentimentality to resonate on a deep, familiar, bodily level.
The title track is ‘Replica’s crown: its elegant yet forlorn piano chords the most perfect articulation of mourning this year. A mourning that is at the heart of life, that is the beauty of life – a moment that will not, cannot, exist forever but in memory. In moving away from the towering grandness of ‘Returnal’ and ‘Rifts’ to explore emotion at gut-level, Lopatin has made his most open record yet. Amplifying feeling, expression, progression; just like ‘Replica’, this should be the way to move forward into 2012.