300,000,000 m/s and falling

Art takes over when words fail. There are times when it’s the only worthy analogy for how we feel. The intensity of emotion and its process from explosion into dissipation can be earth-shattering, eclipsing logic and arresting the senses. The fourth LP by electronic retromaniac Oneohtrix Point Never (say it “one oh tricks”) shattered every expectation and eardrum in its opening second. Toxic digital garbage, off-human howls amplified through subterranean corridors, noise upon noise upon noise, all singing in violent harmony as it burns a hole through the stratosphere. The trauma is in the first track, but the remainder of Returnal is the sound of wounds healing. Skin and psyche knit themselves back together over analogue beeps and hums. When absorbed as a whole, the physiological impact that this music has is startling. So much of it is due to its sly approach to structure, and the fact that it simply wouldn’t make sense on shuffle. Most, if not all great works of music have a tonal narrative. The way one atmosphere progresses to the next is a delicate procedure, whether it’s within a song or across an album and Returnal is one of the very best examples of this. The sci-fi-tinted metallic moodscapes don’t build to a climax and then come down. Almost all of it is a recovery from the climax, and an adjustment to intensity. The aggression of our inner lives is hard to make sense of, and it’s art like this that can help us survive it.


Norman Records

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