Review: Oneohtrix Point Never / Rene Hell - Music for Reliquary House / In 1980 I Was a Blue Square
American future-gazers Daniel Lopatin (that’s OPN) and Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell) have harnessed the vintage electronic techniques and redefined them in thrilling and unexpected ways. Oneohtrix Point Never started with massive, stripped down analog drones that gradually worked their ways into kosmische musik worship, to later become more experimental, plunderphonic, using samples and creating collages. Rene Hell made a sharp break with the anemic ambient or noise projects to create a completely new entity: stylish, sleek, modern and actually adventurous. His style was like the IDM for the analog synth revival, flickering with mangled samples, tight rhythms often bordering on techno and rolling krauty synth lines.
It’s actually strange that the idea of a split release between the two didn’t come up earlier. On both sides, the musicians present their own, idiosyncratic approaches to electronic music, reinforcing their image and sounds, as well as experimenting insome new areas. Dan Lopatin continues his romance with creating new patterns entirely out of samples on side A, entitled “Music For Reliquary House”, after a performance he did in a New York museum of art. This is Lopatin at his most abstract and abrasive, often falling into a flurry of brutal, shard-like glitch clusters that mess up the entire recording and add a special, cracked-like, distorted quality to the constant stuttering in unknown languages. Sometimes he will reach back to his soothing beginnings and throw a dreamy, angelic drone to serve as the background to the pointilistic carnage piercing the listener’s ears with high-pitched precision.
Rene Hell’s side is definitely more melodic - and if I never thought it would be possible to call Witscher more melodic and song-like than Lopatin, Jeff’s compositions do actually possess a sense of melody - and some breathtakingly beautiful melody at that. Take the opening “Meta Concrete” as an example, with a cinematic piano line constantly pierced by jarringly modern electronic glitches, which sounds like a soundtrack to an upcoming film by Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze, this time set in a near future, with an obviously sci-fi twist, but still retaining the somewhat unreal, surrealistic imagery. At other times, Witscher will indulge in MIDI madness, like on overtly sterile and glitch-ladden “Bridge”. However, despite being constantly and relentlessly attacked by brutal, bare-bone power electronics, Rene Hell’s side always stays surprisingly modern and beautiful, soaring bold and proud with melodies and intense synthesizer sequences.
The split LP between Oneohtrix Point Never sees both artists switching roles, this time it’s the latter that takes role of the “relaxing”, more “conventional” and “song-like” part, providing a slower breath and a bit of rest from the glitchy, musique concrete fragmentation of the former musician’s side. An adventurous listen, where two visionary creators pay homage to their avant-garde forefathers. Recommended.