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Replica is an electronic song cycle based around audio procured from TV ad compilations. These sample-based meditations are as lyrical as they are ecological, featuring re-purposed "ghost vocals" which serve as narration for Lopatin's signature amorphous, ambient passages. Lopatin's Juno-60 is still prominent, but Returnal's placid, synthetic surroundings are accelerated through darker, more unpredictable terrains via Lopatin's use of samplers, analog filtering, tape-op, piano, plate reverb and sub-bass. The result is a heightened sense of music as part and parcel of an overall sonic terrain.
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Years have gone by and although i've always remained a fan of electronic music in all it's permutations. I have to admit to crawling right back to rock with my tail between my legs quite some time ago, championing it as comfortably my favourite genre of music. It's albums like Oneohtrix point Never's outstanding 2011 opus Replica that get me genuinely thinking maybe i was right all those years ago. Even though this album was pretty hyped by a few "alternative magazines" when it came out, I'm not sure how many people went out and actually bought this or even streamed it. If you didn't you should have. This felt and still feels like a landmark record, from the moment i press play and "Andro's" ominous synths blare out of my speakers to the disturbingly eroticized vocoder sounds that close out "Explain". I love how Daniel Lopatin (OPN) has constructed these songs, they're steadfastly gripping and superlatively creepy. The sounds he sampled for the songs on Replica (mainly from 1980's commercials) have been so cleverly recontextualized and sequenced i could even imagine the KLF blushing whilst hearing them.
Take "Sleep Dealer" which only plays for a little over 3 minutes, but throughout that time it creates a dense, otherwordly universe of abstract beauty. Repeating and interweaving the gasps and sighs of an annonymous voice(s), whilst layering them with a thumping percussive pulse, warbly synths and cinematic drones. "Nassau" manages a similar feat by using many of the same ingredients although it's an altogether more fractured and cacophanous work albeit no less remarkable. The more minimalist drone pieces like "Submersible" work incredibly well also, conjuring up images of baron lands of eternal darkness and unspeakable devastation. The absolute crown on here is the title track though, the understated piano motif and the nefarious drones effortlessly come together to create a masterpiece of melancholia capable of stopping you dead in your tracks. For anyone who slept on this last year go pick this up pronto it's beyond essential listening.
Seriously, spend the money. This album will take you on a journey, and return you right back where you began. In this way, you'll want to listen to it over and over again, to repeatedly take that journey, to see and hear the things you missed before.