Oneohtrix Point Never – “Zebra”
Oneohtrix Point Never’s new album, R Plus Seven, isn’t out for a few more weeks, but in addition to “Problem Areas” and an excerpt of “Still Life,” here’s a track that should definitely be able to tide fans over until then. That’s because “Zebra,” which comes right in the middle (and is in every way a centerpiece) of the record, is a world of a song. Over nearly seven minutes, Daniel Lopatin moves through section after section of heady, smooth textures that sacrifice none of their complexity or angularity. Opening with quick-cut samples of synths and human voice that punch more like staccato notes on a piano, Lopatin adds layer after layer until there are so many things happening at once it’s hard to even focus on one detail.
The track is one of the best examples of the way Lopatin has said he wants his music to make listeners feel like they’re moving fast and slow at the same time (2:00-2:30 alone moves from a steady melody, to beatless ambience, before jumping briefly into light-speed with a crunchy synth blur). After the spacious decompression of the middle section, “Zebra” eventually rebuilds itself with surprisingly natural sounds. Saxophone and string samples drift in and out of one another as if they were floating in space as the track gentley fades to a finish. It’s really the first good example to show that the talk about R Plus Seven being the closest Lopatin has come to making “conventional songs” is not the whole story, or something to even be worried about. This is proof. “Zebra” is a fractured puzzle of a song; as endlessly complex as it is effortlessly beautiful. Listen below.
R Plus Seven is out 8/1 on Warp