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Oneohtrix Point Never’s Journey from Soundscapist to Alien Pop Star

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Oneohtrix Point Never’s Journey from Soundscapist to Alien Pop Star

Andrew Younker

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Daniel Lopatin, best known as Oneohtrix Point Never in the noise and ambient underground, continues his reign as the forerunner of experimental electronic music with the release of his latest record, Age Of, and the subsequent self-described “concertscape” of Myriad Industries.

Lopatin has an impressive laundry list of contributions to the greater art music scene, including the accidental invention of vaporwave and the release of Replica which stands as one of the most eerily soothing sample-based records in music.

After working with the Safdie Brothers and Iggy Pop on the “Good Time” soundtrack in 2017, Lopatin notched another key experience in sound design and writing for a singer, a far cry from his early days as ambient technician and sampler rather than a traditional songwriter. His early works shy away from customary structures and delicately place harmony and discord in juxtaposition to drive home a motif or message. The latter characteristic is still true of his music, but interestingly enough he’s decided to dive into writing songs with verses and choruses, even singing himself on the new record, most notably the apocalyptic lead single “Black Snow.”

In the past year, Lopatin has worked with Anohni, FKA twigs, Iggy Pop, and even pursued a collaboration with R&B staple and Justin Bieber mentor, Usher. Weirdo electronic pop has gained traction through artists like Arca and Björk in this decade with the release of Utopia in 2017, but it’s worth noting OPN’s music has never been truly instrumental, as most albums feature a litany of vocal chirps and cuts, making for the most naturally drawing computer music of its genre.

On his last proper record, Garden Of Delete, Lopatin sharpened his sword on haunting songs like “Animals,” and its androgynous demon vocals. Age Of takes this a step further, only this time Lopatin himself is the alien orator in a futuristic supernova of despair.

Age Of only has a handful of vocally-centered tracks, usually bookended by bizarro medieval harpsichord prog and blasts of noise. Tracks like “Babylon” act as tent poles for the meaty, experimental bulk of the record, creating an undeniably divisive and intriguing blend of sonic structures. “Toys 2” could be any sort of commentary on neoliberal consumption and the bondage age of humanity, but the albums musical themes are up for interpretation in the broad world of Myriad Industries that Lopatin has carefully crafted.

Age Of is a transitional piece, with one foot in Lopatin’s old work and one foot in the future of experimental poptimism. In truth, the harshest pieces of noise on this record are rawer and more violent than even Garden Of Delete, but Lopatin gives himself the artistic leverage to reach the far extremes of the sonic conditioning by propping the album on these ‘pop’ songs. Daniel Lopatin has proved his cosmic influence yet again, postering himself to be this generation’s Aphex Twin, a crown that comes with consecutive groundbreaking contributions to electronic music. Check out Age Of if you’re even a little curious what OPN has had rattling around his mind for the last year.

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Oneohtrix Point Never’s Journey from Soundscapist to Alien Pop Star