Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven (2013)
Like any abstract art, abstract music can be tedious if you're not ready for it, and sometimes even if you think you are. Music especially so, because a piece takes a fixed amount of time – the length of the composition – to take in in its entirety. There's no scratching the chin, pursing the lips, mumbling "sure" and ambling on to the next piece: you've got to sit through the whole thing. The mind will wander and details are sure to be missed. Hm, I need to pick up my dry cleaning. Then the thing ends, and, blinking as you bemusedly rejoin reality, you struggle to conjure a single detail of any of what you've just supposedly experienced, and wonder if in fact you heard anything at all.
R Plus Seven is no exception. Consistent rhythm is hard to come by; some stretches might even register as silence if the volume's not high enough. Everywhere, nonsense abounds. The album rejects any internal order. Yet, peering into its chaos, one sees the world outside. Hop aboard a train, wander through the dark canyon of some urban center, or lie down gently in a field beneath snow-capped peaks, and this music seems to suit the strange and elusive harmony of the world around us.
The beauty of abstract music – and, perfunctorily, any abstract art – is not in what it shows you but in what it allows you to see. Necessarily, there is a component of abstract art that lies within the beholder, and that is in the mind's apprehension of whatever impression, whatever ripples, the art creates upon contact with a psyche, no two of which being quite the same. That is to say: a work of abstract art is something different to everyone, no matter what the critics say. And in that gap between the art's physical manifestation and its collision with the mind, that yawning chasm that is the sum of all of a person's conscious and unconscious existence, the endlessly untangling threads and fabrics of who they are, is where abstract art finds its potency, and by which it allows us to see ourselves and the world.