Boomkat Product Review:
Age Of is OPN’s eighth studio album and the latest chapter of a definitive American hauntological saga for this transitory, phase-shifting decade. It features Anohni, James Blake, Prurient, Kelsey Lu, Eli Keszler and others in various capacities...
Strewn across the prog-R&B vape chamber fantasias in Age Of, vocals often take precedence in a mix of auto-tuned Future-style soul, sadboy elegies, black metal croaks and warped stadium pop choruses, all in duet with 0PN’s signature synthetic chorales. The nature of film editing and writing music to imagery - as with last year’s Good Time OST - also seems to exert an increasing hold over his music, as the variation from scene-to-scene and range of voices in Age Of feels like an ensemble cast rallying around a patently visionary composer/director/artist.
In key with his (not hard to pronounce) moniker - it’s One Oh Trix Point Never, a play on the radio station Magic 106.7 - Lopatin’s music feels ever more like dialling into a chimeric, algorithmic radio station where anachronistic MOR and adult contemporary modulates with modern R&B, trap soul and Afrobeats in a very contemporary sort of hyperjazz-fusion that absorbs and transmutes emotional signals from electromagnetic ether - perhaps imagining Paddy McAloon alchemising with Future, James Ferraro mutually dreaming with Laurie Anderson, or Thomas Dolby jamming the airwaves with The Game.
After now spending some quality time with the album, we can safely hail it as one of 0PN’s smartest. Its lead single Black Snow, remains a total standout, and Prurient’s appearances, whether erupting from the choral froth of Warning, harmonising with Lopatin’s auto-tune on the David Gray-puckered Babylon, or the pop epic Same are all peak points. But we can’t ignore the excoriating excellence of We’ll Take It, which uncannily sounds a bit like Croww’s Slipknot deconstructions, and Last Known Image of a Song beautifully sounds like 4Hero gone ambient.
Concision and variation are key here. There really aren’t a lot of records that manage to collide pop and avant-garde worlds quite like this one.