Review Summary: A beautiful autobiography that goes from genre to genre, style to style, based on the composer himself and repeating itself beautifully.
I believe... I believe I was about to lose it when I heard the ending.
I was about 3 seconds away from crying, but I held it together. The sheer amount of sensations, emotions, feelings, and specific points that Again provides is incredible. It bombards you relentlessly, but not aggressively; rather, it does so sweetly, delicately, and sentimentally beautiful.
Did you think OPN wouldn't do it? Of course, he did! He did it again, and with an overall impact that almost left me breathless in every second of this supreme and incredible album.
I think about technology, humanity, electronics, futurism, but also the art of creation. I think about everything, and almost OPN's entire career summarized in nearly an hour in the most eccentric and delicate way possible. This is not weird for the sake of being weird; this is weird seeking its beauty in its representation, in the representation of the artist himself. In this album, Daniel seeks to represent himself in a melancholic, abrasive, psychedelic, and even fleeting manner, like an aggressive heart that only knows how to communicate with love, now renewed.
An artist must build upon what was, must repeat to create something new because being entirely self-taught beyond what you've already created in your own style is impossible. So, you must base yourself on yourself once again, see your own references and see what you did, how you can expand it, and from there, compose. That's where the magic of composition comes from – not in creating something "completely new" but in composing, tearing apart, structuring, and envisioning different fragments and influences already composed and composing them into a single whole to create a particular sensation. And this is precisely what OPN does with his career within Again, that's why, once again.
Now, you might ask, if this is OPN "once again," what's exciting about it? It has excitement in the way that here he looks toward the future, his compositions become more delicate, and he leans more toward classical music, grand, and sentimental, blending his power of strangely hybrid and unique music, creating an album that is almost inexplicable. At times, it can be brilliant, and at others, it simply falls into the unknown, innocence, not knowing how to be, how to breathe, and trying to do it, over and over again, just like a composer. It's not happy, it's not sad, it's not static; it varies in a way that you don't even realize when it does.
This is how an album is created, and this, precisely, is the process of a musician.
Again is an album of glitch, progressive electronic, neo-psychedelia, and orchestral music, seen in a highly abstract, fragmented, extravagant, and unpredictable way. You don't know what will happen, but you let yourself be carried away by the electronic tide that now leans toward classical music, with compositions clearly based on what could have been R Plus Seven, but not the frenetic part, rather the short, open, the one that seemed to speak to us with its strange patterns, precisely that part is now mixed with the new, fashion-forward, futuristic, and even classical style of Again.
The most significant personality of this album is the vast, distant sound, dreamy, seemingly distancing itself with time, but still there, along with the occasional violin trying to speak within the electronic soundscape, a bit of language that blends with OPN's more abstract, profound, and striking style.
There's an excessive amount of sampling, ideas, and executions, so many that it reminds me of the overexploitation that was R Plus Seven, but this time, it's more romantic, visionary in the classical sense. Elseware begins by demonstrating that.
Elseware is a short and functional orchestral piece, perfectly composed, with bass, highs, crescendos, and a sense of nostalgia. It feels like you've heard this before, but you don't know where it's from. It's like an unfamiliarity with the future, yet something you've already experienced – a memory lost in the void, now living in your mind. It's a highly emotive introduction, and as I've always said, no matter how short a piece is, what matters is that it works, and Elseware made me reflect in just 2 minutes.
Next is "Again," the album's main song, surprisingly one of the most significant and emotional of all.
We hear voices, sounds, waves that meander and seem to dance with each other without apparent sense, just beeping sounds being sounds, acting as such, creating a psychedelically unfamiliar and new atmosphere. It's progressive electronic music with a human energy that moves incredibly well. After about two minutes, it undergoes one of the most incredible surges OPN has ever given us, leaving me with goosebumps in a very short time. For some reason, it reminds me of the sixth movement of Promises, and that says it all; it's magical and one of the best parts of the entire project. Incredible.
It fades away in a way we recognize – claustrophobic, human voices in limbo, strangeness after beauty, gripping, building, and reshaping "World Outside."
Remember "Inside World" from R Plus Seven? Well, it's not exactly a sequel, more like a restructure. With the concept I mentioned earlier about composition, we can see many parts of the original song sampled, flipped, with a lot of reverb, and now reversed, pitch-shifting occasionally. Yes, this brings us back to the more abrasive and energetically saturated side of Daniel, and it's quite noticeable with the abrasive changes, the incredible vocals seemingly from heaven, and the interesting fusion between the heart of R Plus Seven and the heart of Magic OPN. I could keep talking about this song; it's magnificent, but if this review, at this point, three songs in, is this long, I think it's better to gradually summarize the magnificence, don't you think?
"Krumville" is... curiously sweet, mixing many things, so many that it's hard to describe them all. It uses this subtle sampled guitar repeatedly, in conjunction with a small left-panned voice that harmonizes even more strangely with the entire ambiance, and then it turns into a huge gust of subtle, tiny chirps that return to the main melody. It's a massive dance that later adopts the incredible synth-pop that impressively impacts the composition.
Punches, changes, strong sensations – all of this is "Krumville," in about 4 and a half rounded minutes that will make you soar in the sound collage and incredible magic of abstract electronics.
"Locrian Midwest" is a rather focused song. It promises something and delivers it with pulsating synthesizers that travel from side to side, making you feel in the same place but ever-changing. It's like standing still, not advancing, but nature creating a new shield around you. It has an innocent but sentimentalistic sound, a little acidic if you ask me, not too much, but it has its touches, and that makes it incredible.
Especially when you hear that voice in the background repeating "Again, again, again," you feel like you're in a strange place, a familiar garden that is now introducing its naturalness to you, or perhaps, your own naturalness. Because, as Daniel said, this sounds more like an artistic autobiography than a linear story, and that is even more significant to me.
"Plastic Antique" uses a sample from R Plus Seven, and this gave me a flashback to the past, as R Plus Seven is the best album in its genre, in my opinion. Hearing something as familiar as that synthesizer from "Problem Areas" is simply intimate. It feels delicate, and Daniel handles it perfectly here.
There are calm winds, strong winds, and repetitive melodies that rise to make you hear them more clearly. It's an incredible journey and perhaps one of the most abstract and nostalgic because of how direct it is, how open it sounds, and how mechanized, plastic but malleable it is. It alters your brain once again and seems... never-ending.
On the other hand, "Gray Subviolet" deceives you because you see its duration, where it's placed, and you might think it will be some kind of interlude, but it's actually one of the most beautiful, dreamy, and meaningful compositions of the entire album. It made me fly for a moment after all the craziness and the direct wind in my eyes. This made me fly briefly. Its orchestral direction is impressive, and its piano-like composition is also. It's simply my type of work, and here, halfway through, it reminds us of the light. One that we will see later.
"The Body Trail" is incredible, a linear drone-like composition harmonized with sweet electronic touches and recordings. Stuttering voices create another melody that repeats, creates a new one, and repeats again. It's another instrument, a journey that lets you see the trail of the human body, the sounds, our voice, and how it can also form incredible textures, in this case, in the form of a psychedelic journey worthy of a hypnotic drug that mesmerizes you until it leaves you somewhat blinded. And it feels... beautiful.
"Nightmare Paint" is a bit darker, and it makes sense. It's one of the most ambient, eerie, and strange of all. Deep drums, strange voices, subtle squeaks, and psychedelic guitars that we had seen in pieces before act like breaths, like a painter on fire painting the lament of his loss, with incredible electronic and production manipulation.
"Memories of Music" seems like a capsule of everything, the most magical of all, and actually one of the most original. It sounds like a sweet fusion of all the hybrid styles that Daniel wanted to incorporate here, slowly, hypnotically, and highly dreamy. It absorbs you into a unique atmosphere that transports you to something... personal, in about 6 psychedelic minutes, very delightful, diving into your ears to find the weakest points. A weak point is a dirty, open, immersive psychedelic guitar solo that seems to cleanse you. It's one of the most surprising parts of the entire album and hits you strongly in one of the most enjoyable ways, with those magnificent drums and incredible structure. One of the best.
"Memories of Music" manages to strike the perfect balance between psychedelic electronic composition and wildly glitchy composition of experimental psychedelic rock, being one of the most structurally rich and one that aspires to more, endlessly, very similar to what "Garden of Delete" was but SO much better.
These final three songs are indeed of high importance and provide the final emotional push to the project in a striking manner, but from different perspectives. "On an Axis" in a constructive way, "Ubiquity" in a calm yet meaningful way, and "A Barely Lit Path"... well, that's another story.
"On an Axis" is incredible, starting really ambient and a bit low in the background, with voices far off, soothing you. It slowly changes and reveals its other face: a song similar to minimal techno that now builds with progressive electronics until it explodes into the saturated glitch that I enjoyed like a child, even though it only lasts about 40 seconds. It's a curious hope but also a tension that leads to the other preparation for the final reflection: "Ubiquity Road."
"Ubiquity Road" is reflective and thoughtful. It doesn't rise; it just stays where it is to create new magical universes of a composer who now masters every part of his brain to create a path of omnipresence that controls everything he sees, and he demonstrates it instrumentally, technically, and electronically with one of the most soothing, beautiful, and genuinely reflective songs that invites you to sit down and see all that this musical journey has been, this magic and fantasy turned into reality, all together, in the same precious universe looking toward the future. The musicality is incredible, the effects even more so, everything, everything about this song is beautiful. And what comes next? The ending.
Even better, "A Barely Lit Path."
I've already talked about this song; it was the first and only single from all of this. And it makes sense; many people complained that they presented the ending first, but this ending is the heart of the album; everything depends on it. "Elseware" said it, "Gray Subviolet" trimmed it, "Memories of Music" created it, the emotion of this ending wasn't hearing it without knowing how it is; the emotion of "A Barely Lit Path" is knowing it, knowing how it sounds, knowing everything that comes behind to make it a single piece that concludes this magnificent album in one of the best ways I've ever heard in my life.
It almost made me cry even though I've heard it many times as a single, and there, there is the emotion.
It's not an ending; it's more like a release, breaking your own barriers to see more possibilities as a composer. It's not a letter to existentialism, or depression, or anything like that; it's a letter to musicians, to breaking barriers, and seeking creativity within classical music, who you are, your personality as a composer, and your ability to compose.
"Again" ends up being a spectacular album that may be a 100 in time, but for now, I'll leave it at that. A beautiful autobiography that goes from genre to genre, style to style, based on the composer himself... and repeating itself beautifully.
That's "Again," seeing you once more, one and...