Thirty-three-year-old electronic musician Daniel Lopatin looks at human feelings like he’s crafting a Swiss watch. Recording as Oneohtrix Point Never, Lopatin works with simple piano lines and thick distortion to sketch detailed maps of emotional states from joy to despair. With sounds like those, it was no surprise when Trent Reznor brought him on the road as an opening act on Nine Inch Nails’ tour with Soundgarden last year. Now comes Garden of Delete, Lopatin’s seventh full-length album, to take his vision to its most thrilling extremes yet.
Immediate standout “Mutant Standard” hits like a rock opera in miniature, maintaining a sense of drama-packed suspense over eight wordless minutes. The lyrics on “Animals,” meanwhile, are charmingly unintelligible, like a starry-eyed ballad sung by a heap of wires and metal. “Sticky Drama” combines the best of both approaches, as a Thompson Twins-esque piano line segues into R&B before taking a sharp left turn into nu-metal grandeur, with mangled, glitch-trap bass that feels like it’s been cherry-picked from Skrillex’s repertoire.
Lopatin’s skill at piecing together unlikely sounds for striking emotional effect is clearest of all on “Lift,” a bewitching highlight whose two drum-beat melody lines gallop in different directions, at two distinct speeds, as if two minds are overlapping. Lopatin has said that “Lift” is his version of “Janie’s Got a Gun” – an unusual touchstone that you can hear in the hair-metal guitar trills that come in at the song’s halfway mark and the breathy bleeps that recall Steven Tyler’s intro on “Janie.” Lopatin has also called “Lift” a love song of sorts, and it’s where his Garden most clearly bursts into bloom.