#23. Oneohtrix Point Never: Garden of Delete
Garden of Delete is easily one of the more experimental albums of 2015. Daniel Lopatin describes his dense, instrumental electronic album as loosely autobiographical, inspired by his own memories of puberty which he refers to in an interview with Dummy Mag as “traumatic.” But in addition to framing the album as a dark memoir of his adolescence, he also creates an intricate mythology suggesting it’s about an alien teenager named Ezra.
In a lot of ways the album makes more sense when it’s about an alien; the industrial glitches and sputtering chopped audio sound otherworldly. But its ingredients can actually be traced back to Lopatin’s own experience. Most notably, the acidic guitars appearing throughout the album are inspired by the aggressive rock music he listened to as a teen (he cites Soundgarden’s Superunknown as perfectly lining up with his acne breakout, for instance). These influences give the album an overall brooding, menacing tone that paints adolescent growth as something that happens in a furnace instead of a cocoon.
Garden of Delete really does feel like music from another galaxy. Its constant splicing suggests a trip through the central nervous system of some neurotic cyborg, synapses misfiring as it tries to process data. To call it a grim and twisted Plunderphonics for the digital age would oversimplify its aesthetic. Many of John Oswald’s experimental collages of popular music were meant to make an artistic statement, but Garden of Delete conveys raw emotion. While it might not be from our world, we can still understand Lopatin’s angst, confusion, anger, and sometimes exuberance.
Garden of Delete is not meant for casual listening. For many, it will feel like a sensory barrage. And others won’t be able to ignore the bleak emotional undertones that carry throughout the album. Both responses, however, seem appropriate: being a teenager wasn’t easy for Lopatin, and it shouldn’t be easy to hear his story. Regardless of the weight of the sonic pallet or subject matter, it’s a story worth hearing.