Approach Garden of Delete with caution. Both terrifying and amusing in equal measure, Oneohtrix Point Never’s latest release is as much of an abstract collage of sound as it is an album, and has clear intentions of bending your expectations of electronic music.
Daniel Lopatin throws together a vast amount of stylistic influences — in a dual spirit of satire and nostalgia — that can often result in a surreal homage to Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails. It is indeed as ridiculous as that sounds, but for the most part makes for an enthralling experience. The fractured pacing makes it a hypnotic one at that, twisting and turning at a speed that leaves you behind even on your umpteenth listen. You think you’ve got it sussed, only for it to baffle you further.
What further disjoins the albums pacing is the content within the tracks themselves; the standout, “Sticky Drama”, sees the characteristics of death metal amalgamate with typical EDM tropes, at which point you seriously question whether Daniel Lopatin is a genius, or a complete fucking maniac (for my money, it’s both).
Naturally, a work as fragmented as this isn’t going to resonate with everyone, and is perhaps to be appreciated more than enjoyed. Personally, the more time I spent with it, the more pleasure I took from its bold deconstruction of electronic music. What unfortunately lets Garden of Delete down—and prevents it from being something of a modern classic — is the less stimulating efforts that comprise the start and finish of the album. While it’s a shame, this certainly isn’t enough to stop Oneohtrix Point Never’s latest release from being one of the best records of 2015 and, more strikingly, one of the most unpredictable works I’ve ever experienced.
8 out of 10
I was, and remain, pretty ambivalent about the grating, manic school of electronic music that Garden of Delete seems to hail from. The hodgepodge of creativity and vacuousness that characterises it doesn’t garner affection, and I’m not enough of a fan of the genre for more cerebral qualities to come through. The album’s game of subverting listener expectations of electronic music doesn’t play so well on me, as I don’t really have any. I’m not invested in the tropes Oneohtrix Point Never’s playing poltergeist to.
That said, I do see a value to his latest release. It’s a cackling headcase of an album, and there’s enough good stuff going on in it for me to recommend at least a listen or two. It’s well produced and occasionally very lovely. “Animals” and “Child of Rage” especially are much more agreeable — in my mind because they take the time to actually be songs. But this probably betrays the truth of the matter; I don’t get Garden of Delete. Others will, and good luck to them, but I doubt I’ll return to more than one or two of its tracks.
6 out of 10
There’s a lot to think about for a review of Garden of Delete. The whole album is a manic blast of sound, at least on its first listen. Twisting and turning and purposely blindsiding its listener, Garden of Delete doesn’t stop evolving, and without following any kind of structure it can very easily feel like a stream of consciousness immortalised in music. This alone provides a lot of reason to return over and over — a single listen simply won’t be enough to take it all in.
The range of samples and sounds used could easily extend into a full essay’s worth of writing: trance, ambient, world, metal, latin, jazz and the brasher characteristics of EDM all meld with touches of label mates Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. To say I’m fully satisfied after listening to Garden of Delete would, however, not be a totally genuine statement. So much is touched upon that I would have loved to hear explored further. As with Squarepusher’s latest release, this can be done at length in a live setting but for the album, those relistens will only give me so much more satisfaction.
7 out of 10