Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Song of the Day #209 - Oneohtrix Point Never - Zebra

Garden of Repeat


OPN's new album, Garden of Delete, came out a bit ago and I've been listening to it quite a lot, but it's also pushed me back into reliving the bangers on his 2013 genre-defining magnum opus R Plus Seven, specifically this one, which is just like... viscerally addictive. Like "Lagrimas Blancas" that I discussed yesterday, there's a quality of the opening that pushes past what you thought a comfortable volume would be. It's matched by a similar overriding of what you thought a catchy rhythm could be. There's an aggressiveness or insistence to the beat, one that reminds me of stuff on niggas on the moon or the horns on "Blood on the Leaves", something where you feel like it ought to relent at some point, that it can't possibly maintain this straightforward energy, and then it does for just one beat longer, and then one beat longer than that.

But then all of this is mirrored with an ear for supporting melodies and patterns that is on the tier of Four Tet... other patterns, quieter than the driving established beat, work out into a complex counterpoint that reinforce the notice of melodic shifts in what originally appealed through rhythmic qualities. What's so cool and Four Tet-like is that all of these elements, if examined separately, are actually very simple ostinatos, but their combinations make them appear much more intricate. All of this is then contrasted with growing ambient sonic elements that overtake the track entirely for a brief period before reintroducing the key motif with unprecedented urgency and complexity, feeling like a big finale, bringing it on home, but uh...

Wait, what? The song is only like a third over at that point? And thus we see the real treasure of OPN on this album - his ability to seamlessly flow from this one powerful, defined idea, into an entrancing soundspace that it generates. The whole back end of the song reminds me of uhh... you know the old Rolling Stones classic "Can't You Hear Me Knocking"? It's like... the first part is so bold, so dynamic, that the energy of it stays with you as the song shifts into an entirely other mode. And so these ambient parts become not just beautiful in their own rights, but extended periods of contemplation of the intensity that preceded it. So your own memories of the beginning are flavored and enhanced by this and your anticipation of hearing it again grows and grows. That's so cool, right? Does that make sense? If it doesn't seem cool, just assume I didn't explain it well and think about it some more and hopefully you can come to the same understanding of its coolness as I have, cause it's really cool.

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