Album Review: Oneohtrix Point Never Retreads Old Ground in New Ways on “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never”

Magic Oneohtrix Point Never album cover.

Magic Oneohtrix Point Never album cover.

Antoine Chanfreau, Reporter

The second the trap-inspired hi-hats and Nolanberollin’s steady, sedate rap verse start on “The Whether Chanel,” it is clear that Daniel Lopatin, recording under the name Oneohtrix Point Never, has added new elements to a familiar sound on his latest album, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never.

As one of electronic music’s most prolific artists, Lopatin (also called OPN for short) has worked for nearly ten years on everything from studio albums, film soundtracks, and music production for artists like The Weeknd. Lopatin’s latest work shows him using familiar musical techniques to create an engaging sound that surprises and excites. 

The record is most notable for its use of distorted strings and synths, vocoded singing, and retro guitars. These sounds evoke both the past and the present, with guitars and drum beats from the ’80s, and in particular Kevin Shrieve’s Transfer Station Blue album, meeting retrofuturistic synths and vocoded singing. 

None of these are new for Lopatin, who doesn’t stray very far from his signature sound in any direction except upwards. Although Magic OPN sticks to what Lopatin does best, it still builds on top of past works, improving rather than dwelling upon them. Lopatin’s signature moves—marimbas, vocoding, and lush synths—are all there, but changed in such a way to evoke joy and nostalgia rather than the mystery of past releases like R Plus Seven or Replica.

Features show that Lopatin isn’t unwilling to change things up, and they also serve as highlights on the album. Magic OPN is also one of Lopatin’s first works to feature guest vocalists, with R&B artist The Weeknd singing on “No Nightmares” and rapper Nolanberollin providing a vocal performance on “The Whether Channel.” Overall, this greatly adds to the album’s rich, almost liquid tones by incorporating vocalists that complement the aesthetic Lopatin creates with his instrumentals very well.

The vocal-focused songs on the album combine the guests’ talent in evoking emotions of childhood and growing up in the 80s and sometimes even melancholy with trademark OPN instrumentals, creating tracks remarkable for their appeal as rap or pop and electronic. 

Overall, the album proves Lopatin is going to stick to his roots but that he also isn’t done evolving. This is most evident in his usage of themes new and reminiscent on his past: even if the album is named after Magic 106.7, the station Lopatin listened to growing up, he still has new tricks up his sleeve.