In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
The lead up to R Plus Seven, Oneohtrix Point Never’s October debut on Warp Records, has been typically inscrutable for the artist born Daniel Lopatin. You’ll need ancient 1990s technology to unlock the secrets of “Joyvtl Jvbuayf,” available only in an outdated RealAudio format. (So, you can take your obsolete analog formats and shove ’em, apparently.) Preview track “Problem Areas,” meanwhile, has had its disembodied chanting and frantic synth bass run through a pair of visual filters: The track’s Takeshi Murata-directed video is also available as rotating, shuddering web art that’s as difficult to predict as the melodic snippets racing in and out of “Problem Areas.”
The cube serves as an apt visual metaphor for “Problem Areas”—and R Plus Seven as a whole. Song, album, and video are all composed of familiar objects arranged in unfamiliar ways, and just as you think you’ve got a grasp on one piece of the collage (“Where have I heard that voice before?” “Is that the top of a T-800s metallic skull?”), it darts out of reach. It’s a blend of the organic and the artificial—and the organic made artificial—that Lopatin has played with ever since he started stretching keyboard drones into soundtracks for theoretical 1970s B-movies. R Plus Seven buffs those concepts to an ’80s-excess sheen, and the song’s New Age snapshots eventually sidle right up to the edge of the uncanny valley. As chattering textures break for a sustained wash of pipe organ, listeners will ask themselves: Is it live, or is it Oneohtrix? And where did he get that VHS copy of Dawn Of The Dead?