Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica: A Sample-Based Masterpiece
Oneohtrix Point Never is the stage name of Daniel Lopatin, an American electronic musician who has been making experimental and ambient music since the mid-2000s. His fifth studio album, Replica, released in 2011, marked a significant departure from his previous synth-based works, as it was based entirely on audio samples from old television commercials. The result is a stunning collage of sounds that creates a new narrative and aesthetic out of the fragments of consumer culture.
Replica was co-produced by Joel Ford and Al Carlson, and was Lopatin's first work to be recorded in a studio. He used a collection of VHS tapes that he had acquired from various sources, mostly dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, and extracted snippets of dialogue, music, and noise from them. He then manipulated and layered these samples using software and hardware, creating loops and patterns that formed the basis of his compositions. He described his process as "looking for old things that are meaningful" then "restructuring and rearranging it to interfere with the original narrative and creating this new poetry."
The album consists of ten tracks that range from atmospheric and melodic to rhythmic and glitchy. The title track, "Replica", features a haunting piano loop that is accompanied by chopped-up vocals and eerie noises. "Sleep Dealer" and "Nassau" are more upbeat and danceable, with warped beats and catchy hooks. "Up" and "Child Soldier" are more chaotic and abrasive, with distorted drums and vocals that sound like they are coming from a broken radio. The album ends with "Explain", a beautiful and ironic piece that uses fake choirs and rich chords to create a sense of closure.
Replica is not only a musical achievement, but also a conceptual one. The album explores the themes of memory, identity, nostalgia, and decay through the lens of media and technology. Lopatin said that the title refers to "the idea of the replica in culture as a way we deal with the decline of knowledge, or human knowledge going to waste because we're not immortal. But it's not a solution, it's just a way of coping with those mysteries... it's like an artistic attempt at conveying the original, and not a copy, so there's inherit failure to it." The cover art, a 1936 illustration by Virgil Finlay from the pulp magazine Weird Tales, depicts a skeletal vampire looking at himself in a mirror, which reinforces this idea of replication and distortion.
Replica received critical acclaim upon its release, and was featured in several year-end lists of the best albums of 2011 by publications such as The Boston Globe, Pitchfork, and Resident Advisor. The album also peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums and Heatseekers Albums charts. Replica is widely regarded as one of Oneohtrix Point Never's best works, and as one of the most innovative and influential albums of the decade. 248dff8e21