But 2011's Replica marked a noted change in Lopatin's approach. Gone were the smooth vistas and open-ended synthscapes of his earlier work. In their place, Lopatin stitched samples of 1980s commercials into glitchy and kaleidoscopic creations that kept the listener active in ways his previous material had not. Now, on R Plus Seven—his first album for Warp Records—Lopatin has taken Replica's uneven grace and made it more busy. The reliance on samples has lessened; instead, he focuses on software patches and MIDI to create the cut-up cathedral tones that drive much of R Plus Seven.
Opener "Boring Angel" begins with a MIDI run that almost turns choral before Lopatin sends dizzying arpeggios across this otherwise serene space—it's like an ADD-addled take on the stateliness of Terry Riley. "Inside World" is spacious and muted, with bursts of daybreak synths and whooshes of sound that set an odd atmosphere. "Zebra" is even more disorienting, with quick sample stabs eventually giving way to a gorgeous choral rush.
These abrupt transitions are clearly of central concern for Lopatin, and it's these rapid shifts that make R Plus Seven unlike anything he's produced to date. But with this new reliance on motion, he's asking a lot of his listeners: these constant changes make it impossible to connect with the album's more luminous stretches. "Americans," for example, opens with the kind of rainforest chimes that have long been Lopatin's trademark, but after a brief intro, it backs away into a strange, carved-up space of broken samples and buzzy drones. "Still Life" moves back and forth between open-ended vistas and twitchy nervousness—it's the sound of roughly ten compositions competing in a maze of sound. Lopatin has clearly served notice that he's no longer the man behind Returnal, and it will be interesting to see where he moves from here. But this constant activity makes R Plus Seven anxious and unsettling, and often difficult to immerse yourself within.