Open main menu

Returnal is the fourth studio album by American electronic musician Daniel Lopatin under the alias Oneohtrix Point Never, released on June 22, 2010 by Mego Records. It develops the synthesizer-based compositions of Lopatin's previous work, while also incorporating elements of noise music and his own processed vocals. The album received positive reviews from critics, and was named among the best albums of 2010 by several publications, including FACT, The Wire, and Tiny Mix Tapes.

Returnal (Front Cover).png
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 22, 2010 (2010-06-22)
RecordedJuly – August 2009, February 2010
ProducerDaniel Lopatin
Oneohtrix Point Never chronology
Singles from Returnal
  1. "Returnal"
    Released: August 30, 2010


Returnal was recorded and mixed by Lopatin using the programs Goldwave and Multiquence.[1][2] Most of the material was produced in an air-conditioned room at his parents' house in Massachusetts (credited as "Ridge Valley Digital") from July to August 2009.[1] The album's first song was recorded in Brooklyn.[2] Instruments including the Akai AX60, the Roland Juno-60, the Roland MSQ-700 and the Korg Electribe ES-1 as well as voice parts by Lopatin are present throughout the album, although the Roland SP-555 and Sherman Filterbank were also used in the development process.[1][2]

Lopatin described Returnal as a "Rousseau record", saying, "He’s a French painter during this exoticism period. They’re very interesting, they’re not one-to-one depictions of nature, explicitly because he didn’t really like or appreciate nature. So I was drawn to that, that’s kind of a vibe."[2] He further explained to critic Simon Reynolds, "I wanted to make a world-music record. But make it hyperreal, refracted through not really being in touch with the world. [...] So I'm painting these pictures, not of the actual world, but of us watching that world."[3] Lopatin explained the imagined scenario behind the album's opening track "Nil Admirari": "the mom's sucked into CNN, freaking out about Code Orange terrorist shit, while the kid is in the other room playing Halo 3, inside that weird Mars environment, killing some James Cameron–type predator."[3]

The cover art for Returnal was photographed by Yelena Avanesova and designed by Stephen O'Malley.[1]


Resident Advisor noted that the album begins in "comic assault mode—the crude tangles of noise, serrated drum machines and vocal screams of 'Nil Admirari'."[4] Sherburne described "Nil Admirari" as an "unexpected invocation" of noise music, employing "weeping voice, feedback squeal, synthesizer drones, and overdriven drum blasts" that "combust like a rocket on its launch pad,"[5] while The Quietus characterized it as "sort of hurtful: sliced-up aural detritus with no enduring rhythm or melody."[6] Resident Advisor characterized tracks "Describing Bodies" and "Stress Waves" as "almost hymnal."[4] The album's title track is a "mournful ballad"[3] which "buries Lopatin's pitch-shifted vocals into a disorienting forest-haunt."[4]

Both Simon Reynolds and Kiran Sande of Fact noted occasional similarities between the album and Jon Hassell's concept of fourth world music.[7][3] Reynolds described closing track "Preyouandi" as "a shatteringly alien terrain made largely out of glassy percussion sounds, densely clustered cascades fed through echo and delay. On first listen, I pictured an ice shelf disintegrating, a beautiful, slow-motion catastrophe, [...] it's still the sort of music that gets your mind's eye reeling with fantastical imagery."[3] Fact described the album's sound as "a psychedelia more earthbound than cosmic", calling it "music driven by an ecological rather than a narrative impulse, more interested in testing the limits of space rather than telling stories within it."[7]

Critical reviewsEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Beats Per Minute68%[8]
Drowned in Sound     [9]
Fact     [7]
PopMatters     [10]
Resident Advisor     [4]
Tiny Mix Tapes     [11]
Uncut     [12]
Allmusic     [13]

Resident Advisor stated that "Returnal feels like a document as dazed and dizzy as heatstroke, the other-state peace of dehydration or exhaustion. But its emotional terrain is in constant flux—if, thankfully, slow to evolve—full of transitions and almost sullen mood-swings that make it, at various points, entrancing, bewitching and often quite perplexing."[4] The publication stated that "Returnal still seems like a lock for record of the year in a throwback genre expanding beyond cassette-collectors and Brain Records lovers."[4] Pitchfork's Philip Sherburne noted Returnal to be more focused, thick and composite than Lopatin's past work, noting that when the synthesized arpeggios common in his previous releases do come up, they are "layered and blurred to the point of losing their definition."[5] Comparing Returnal with Lopatin's previous works, Tiny Mix Tapes described the album as "not just a collection of tracks but an indivisible and cohesive whole, held in place this time not by grids and zones but by atmospheres and plumes."[11]


Publication/Author Accolade Rank
Bleep Limited Top 10 Albums of the Year[14] *
Drowned in Sound Albums of the Year[15] 23
Fact The 40 Best Albums of 2010[16] 10
The Guardian (Jude Rogers) Albums of 2010[17] 4
Pitchfork Media The Top 50 Albums of 2010[18] 20
PopMatters The 70 Best Albums of 2010[19] 67
The Best Experimental Music of 2010[20] 9/8
Prefix Best Albums of 2010[21] 29
The Quietus The Best Albums of 2010 So Far[22] 11
Resident Advisor Top 20 Albums of 2010[23] 13
Stereogum The Top 50 Albums of 2010[24] 41
Tiny Mix Tapes Favorite 50 Albums of 2010[25] 6
Uncut 50 Best Albums of 2010[26] 20
The Wild Mercury Sound 100 of 2010[27] 17
XLR8R Favorite Releases of 2010[28] 4
The Wire 2010 Rewind[29] 2
* denotes an unordered list.

In other mediaEdit

The song "Ouroboros" was later featured on The Bling Ring soundtrack, which Lopatin also worked on.

Track listingEdit

All tracks written and produced by Daniel Lopatin.[1]

1."Nil Admirari"5:05
2."Describing Bodies"4:18
3."Stress Waves"5:42
5."Pelham Island Road"7:36
6."Where Does Time Go"6:25
Total length:41:59


  1. ^ a b c d e Returnal (Media notes). Oneohtrix Point Never. Mego Records. 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Session transcript Madrid 2011: Oneohtrix Point Never". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Reynolds, Simon (July 6, 2010). "Brooklyn's Noise Scene Catches Up to Oneohtrix Point Never". The Village Voice. Village Voice, LLC. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Miller, Derek (July 9, 2010). "Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal". Resident Advisor. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Sherburne, Phillip (June 11, 2010). "Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  6. ^ Gardner, Noel. "Review: Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal". The Quietus. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Sande, Kiran (June 17, 2010). "Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal". Fact. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  8. ^ Jordal, Ryan (August 9, 2010). "Album Review: Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal". Beats Per Minute. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  9. ^ Gibb, Rory (June 18, 2010). "Album Review: Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  10. ^ Gabriele, Timothy (September 10, 2010). "Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal". Popmatters. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  11. ^ a b Mangoon. "Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  12. ^ "Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal". Uncut: 91. 2010. 'Stress Waves' unrolls fragile, interweaving drones with great artfulness...
  13. ^ allmusic
  14. ^ "Top 10 Albums Of The Year". Bleep Limited. 2010. Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  15. ^ Adams, Sean (December 2, 2010). "Drowned in Sound's album of the year 2010: 50-11". Drowned in Sound. Silentway. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  16. ^ "The 40 Best Albums of 2010". Fact. The Vinyl Factory. November 30, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  17. ^ "Albums of 2010: How Guardian music critics voted". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. December 11, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  18. ^ Neyland, Nick (December 16, 2010). "The Top 50 Albums of 2010". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  19. ^ Cronk, Jordan (December 23, 2010). "The 70 Best Albums of 2010". Popmatters. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  20. ^ Battaglia, Louis (December 16, 2010). "The Best Experimental Music of 2010". Popmatters. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  21. ^ "Best Of 2010: Prefix's Top 40 (30-21)". Prefix. December 13, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  22. ^ "The Best Albums Of 2010 So Far". The Quietus. July 1, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  23. ^ "RA Poll: Top 20 albums of 2010". Resident Advisor. December 15, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  24. ^ "Stereogum's Top 50 Albums Of 2010". Stereogum. December 8, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  25. ^ Elliott, Richard (December 2010). "2010: Favorite 50 Albums of 2010 (10-1)". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  26. ^ "Uncut's 50 Best Albums of 2010". Album of the Year. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  27. ^ Mulvey, John (December 21, 2010). "The Wild Mercury Sound 100 Of 2010". Uncut. Time Inc. UK. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  28. ^ "XLR8R's Favorite Releases of 2010, Part Two". XLR8R. December 23, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  29. ^ "2010 Rewind". The Wire. January 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2014.