By Jack Daniel Betz
Because of the infuriatingly difficult spelling of this artist’s name, I shall refer to him by O.
O. is an artist out of time. With the exception of a scant few other names, there are not many who have decided to take up the torch of Aphex Twin IDM, as opposed to the more lucrative and accepted path of EDM. To the NightCulture crowd, EDM artists are essentially gods, and this is true now more than ever. So when a weird, outsider electro artist grows in popularity as quickly as O. has, over the past few years, it’s worth taking note.
As far as the weirdness factor goes, R Plus Seven does not at all disappoint. There’s something manic and unhinged about it, as if O. made the album in a multi-day stretch, never stopping to sleep or eat. These songs do not even necessarily all sound like the same artist. It’s completely unpredictable. There is no standard palette or bank of riffs/fallback gimmicks. Other than the songs being made up of electronic samples, there’s not much else that binds them together than the ever-present vox synthesizer that shows up continually throughout the record.
There are two major points of orthodoxy on the record though; these two songs sound like they could have been done by Fuck Buttons or someone else in that more rhythmic category of electro. “Zebra” and “Problem Areas” could easily fit into any Urban Outfitters mix tape and not raise any eyebrows, which is something that balances the record a bit. Other than those, we are left with a whole lotta weird to sift through (which is not necessarily a bad thing).
If there’s one song on the album which leads the pack for random, fiddling experimentation though — it’s “Inside World.” The sound is reminiscent of a video game, but one where someone has blindfolded the player and only allowed them to listen to the noises of what the character was doing, or what powerups they were grabbing. For some of the people who really liked “Zebra” and “Problem Areas,” it might be the track that causes them to write off the whole ordeal.
The record gets rounded out with the prettier, more delicate “Cryo” and “Chrome Country.” These songs show O.’s true strength as a craftsman of calm, ethereal sounds and ambiance: A skill that gets lost on the first half of this odd record.
Highlights of O.’s past career are mostly of this more minimalist quality. The replay value of the whole record is on the lowe side, compared to O.’s dark, spacey, 2012 full-length, but one thing is for sure: It’s never boring. There’s a reason that Animal Collective (kings of electronic freakishness) chose this guy to play at All Tomorrow’s Parties.