Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica (2011), 9/10

Replica was Lopatin's first album to actually be recorded in a studio, and it was also my personal introduction to truly experimental electronic music; for that I am eternally spoiled. Knowing what was involved in the creation before you listen to any of the record, you may expect a pure nonsensical disaster at worst and bore-me-to-tears drudgery at best, but Daniel Lopatin's surreal, melancholic, avante-garde sampling experiment is stunningly beautiful. Up until this point, OPN was a synth-heavy project with albums like Zones Without People and Russian Mind showing great songwriting skill/promise as an artist, but they were also limited by ambient synth ideals. Replica, on the other hand, breaks free via the completely unconventional 80s and 90s television advertisement samples. "Andro" is a perfect opener in that it sets the stage for Replica's formula, but also offers a high energy introduction before some of the slower paced tracks. I love the tone and title of "Submersible", a track that does a great job of literally making you feel submerged in the soundscapes offered. Submersion is certainly a trope that could be tacked onto almost any portion of the album and it would apply, although here it is especially potent and focused. I can't think of a more poetic or beautiful closer than "Explain" for this particular record, and it elevates the whole experience to another plane of pleasure. Skeleton vampire guy would be so proud, speaking of which, the outstanding album cover is a Virgil Finlay illustration Loot of the Vampire from the pulp fiction magazine Weird Tales. This accentuates the album's tone of disturbing pulchritude, which is admirably consistent, especially considering the sheer range of samples, yet laser focused approach. The adage holds true that restrictions can yield the greatest art, just as chiptune can yield significant beauty, so can glitchy, heavily sample-based ambient synth. Flowery prose is appropriate for such a verbose and magniloquent set of songs that display such a splendid assortment of senses. You can imagine yourself stuck in an acid trip of a sci-fi simulation or simply gliding across a tranquil, digital sea of distorted, licorice flavored waves. There is a certain, uncommonly specific feeling that emanates from these songs, flowing perfectly from one to the next, not only bringing back a time and place, but providing an obscured image of an infinite joie de vivre. The songs themselves are autonomous and self-reliant enough to provide meaning in and of themselves, but together they create an opulent product of titillation and nuanced significance. Walter Benjamin said "technical reproduction reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes". This is what Oneohtrix Point Never accomplished and proved masterfully artistic with this Replica. Undoubtedly one of the greatest electronic recordings of our time and a one-of-a-kind experience of distinctive, lush, digital delectation.