Oneohtrix Point Never

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Betrayed in the Octagon (2007), 5/10
Russian Mind (2007), 6/10
Zones Without People (2008), 5/10
Returnal (2010) , 6/10
Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1 (2010), 5/10
Replica (2011), 6.5/10
R Plus Seven (2013), 5/10
Garden of Delete (2015), 5/10
Good Time (2017), 5/10
Age Of (2018), 6.5/10

Oneohtrix Point Never, the brainchild of New York's electronic musician Daniel Lopatin harked back to cosmic music of the 1970s.

The double-disc Rifts (No Fun Productions, 2009) is a compilation of three albums: Betrayed in the Octagon, Russian Mind and Zones Without People.

Betrayed in the Octagon (Deception Island, 2007) contained much cerimonial music, some of it inspired by new-age melodies (Behind The Bank and Betrayed In The Octagon), and some of it by Brian Eno's electronic vignettes (the ghostly interference of Eyeballs, the modest adagio of Parallel Minds). The real treat, however, was the 20-minute evolution of an otherworldly choir via Woe Is The Transgression and Woe Is The Transgression II, that, especially in the second half, climbed metaphysical heights.

Russian Mind (No Fun Productions, 2008) focused on the more austere elements of the previous album to deliver Months, in the vein of the crystalline ambient music of Harold Budd, the eleven-minute Physical Memory, harking back to the majestic cosmic music of the 1970s, and the seven-minute Immanence, a polyphony of ecstatic new-age drones. The mournful Grief And Repetition and the bouncing minimalism of Russian Mind were elegant distractions.

Zones Without People (Arbor, 2009) did not quite capitalize on that achievement. The aggressive minimalism of Computer Vision, the baroque hoe-down of Hyperdawn and the lazy minimalism of Learning To Control Myself (despite its coda of war-like videogame sounds) are not particularly original. The ten-minute ballet for natural sounds and synthesizer Format & Journey North ends in apocalyptic drones, a welcome change of pace.

The EP A Pact Between Strangers (2008) contains The Pretender and the 17-minute When I Get Back From New York of slowly evolving minimalist patterns. Other significant compositions include the meandering nine-minute Ships Without Meaning, the longest piece on the EP Ruined Lives (2008), and the minimalist fugue for videogame timbres Transmat Memories on the EP Transmat Memories (2008).

The EP Young Beidnahga (2009) added two lengthy suites that rank among his most creative contributions to electronic soundpainting: Continous Smooth Jazz Trepanation, a relentless pattern slowly metabolized by a pastoral flute, and the fluttering stream of consciousness of Young Beidnahga that shifts timbre halfway and turns into a carillon of sorts.

Returnal (Editions Mego, 2010) is a more psychological work. It begins with a traumatic shock: the wall of squalls of Nil Admirari in the vein of Japanese noisecore. The angst-filled drone of Describing Bodies, the gothic turbulence of Stress Waves, the transcendent tidal sunrise of Pelham Island Road, the minimalist black home of Where Does Time Go, sound like stages of life, leading up to the ancestral subconscious of Preyouandi for found percussion.

Lopatin also released the cassette Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1 (2010), containing 15 brief untitled pieces, a work that influenced vaporwave. The idea was that an "eccojam" is a remix of an old pop song, and the remix consists in selecting a specific section of the song and repeating it at a slower speed than the original and warping its arrangement with sound effects such as reverb. It is an exercise in nostalgia, but also a statement about how memory warps the original events and transfers them into a different era as something else. If A1 is a relatively straightforward remix of Toto's Africa in a multitude of echoes, A2 takes the Fleetwood Mac's Only Over You into another dimension by dissecting and shuffling the original so that it assumes a different rhythm. A3 conflates two laments and fails to do much with the first ("it doesn't matter anyway" from Jojo's Too Little Too Late) but turns the other one ("do you ever see" from Ian Van Dahl's Castles in the Sky) into a psychedelic requiem. Michael Jackson's Morphine is completely obliterated in A4, slowed down to crawling speed and wrapped up into found sounds. If A5 turns the Byrds' Everybody's Been Burned into little more than a somnolent mantra ("I know that door that shuts just before"), A6 smothers Janet Jackson's wails in Lonely in a symphony of tinkling percussion. A7 preserve the thundering essence of Aphrodite's Child's The Four Horsemen, and A8 doesn't quite know what to do with Marvin Gaye's My Love Is Waiting and Alexander O'Neal's Hearsay, and B1 is equally impotent with Peter Gabriel's and Kate Bush's Don't Give Up and John Martyn's Sweet Little Mystery, B2 annihilates Fleetwood Mac's Gypsy in industrial noise before being rescued by an anthemic rendition of Teddy Pendergrass' Love T.K.O.. B3 is too gentle with Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street and Phil Collins's and Marilyn Martin's Separate Lives, and B4 doesn't dare to injure Chris de Burgh's The Lady in Red, and B5 wastes the opportunity to inflict pain to 2Pac's Me Against the World. Equally disappointing are the closing B6, which samples Heart's These Dreams, and B7 with Tears For Fears' Woman in Chains, Electric Light Orchestra's Letter from Spain, Linda and Cecil Womack's Catch and Don't Look Back. This is certainly one of the best (re)mixtapes of all times but not a significant step in Lopatin's artistic development.

The single Emergency Room (2011) introduced Ford & Lopatin, the duo of Daniel Lopatin and Joel Ford of Tigercity, a project steeped into synth-pop of the 1980s, a path continued on the album Channel Pressure (Software, 2011).

The shorter songs of Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica (Mexican Summer, 2011), that sample old television commercials, felt warmer and more elegiac, particularly Remember and Sleep Dealer. Several pieces such as Andro border on bland collage of sonic tricks, but the melodramatic Child Soldier shows how humane they can sound. Lopatin's craft here is more sophisticated than on the previous albums but it is employed for less ambitious compositions. If nothing else, he got rid of the Brian Eno reference: his music is too glitchy and neurotic to be compared with the inventor of static, soothing ambience.

The single Everything Is Working (Hippos In Tanks) and the EP That We Can Play (Hippos In Tanks) introduced Games, the duo of Daniel Lopatin and Joel Ford, purveyors of industrial dance music (Strawberry Sky).

Daniel Lopatin was also active as Infinity Window, a collaboration with Taylor Richardson, that recorded Artificial Midnight (Arbor, 2009) in the vein of Emeralds-style new-age revival.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Emanuele Marinacci )

Oneohtrix Point Never, il progetto del musicista elettronico newyorkese Daniel Lopatin, rimanda alla cosmic music degli anni '70.

Il doppio CD Rifts (No Fun Productions, 2009)" e` una compilation di tre album: Betrayed in the Octagon, Russian Mind e Zones Without People.

Betrayed in the Octagon (Deception Island, 2007) contiene molta musica cerimoniale, ispirata in parte a melodie new-age (Behind The Bank e Betrayed In The Octagon), e in parte ai bozzetti elettronici di Brian Eno (l'interferenza spettrale in Eyeballs, l'adagio dimesso di Parallel Minds). La vera gemma, ad ogni modo, sono i venti minuti in cui un coro ultraterreno si sviluppa attraverso Woe Is The Transgression e Woe Is The Transgression II, e che, specie nella seconda metA , raggiunge altezze metafisiche.

Russian Mind (No Fun Productions, 2008) si concentra sulle atmosfere piA1 austere del precedente album e propone Months, nello stile ambient cristallino di Harold Budd, Physical Memory, che nei sui undici minuti richiama la maestosa cosmic music degli anni '70, e Immanence, una polifonia di droni estatici new-age di sette minuti. La desolata Grief And Repetition e il saltellante minimalismo di Russian Mind sono eleganti divertissement.

Zones Without People (Arbor, 2009) non capitalizza i risultati raggiunti. Il minimalismo aggressivo di Computer Vision, la quadriglia barocca di Hyperdawn e il pigro minimalismo di Learning To Control Myself (nonostante la sua coda di suoni di guerra da videogame) non sono particolarmente originali. Format & Journey North, balletto di dieci minuti per suoni naturali e sintetizzatore, finisce in droni apocalittici, un piacevole cambio di passo.

L'EP A Pact Between Strangers (2008) contiene The Pretender e When I Get Back From New York, con i suoi 17 minuti di pattern minimalisti in lenta evoluzione. Tra le altre tracce degne di nota ci sono la sinuosa Ships Without Meaning , che coi suoi nove minuti A" il pezzo piA1 lungo dell'EP Ruined Lives (2008), e la fuga minimalista per timbri di videogame Transmat Memories nell'EP Transmat Memories (2008).

L'EP Young Beidnahga (2009) aggiunge due consistenti suite che sono da annoverare tra i suoi contributi piA1 creativi al soundpainting elettronico: Continous Smooth Jazz Trepanation, un pattern implacabile lentamente assorbito da un flauto pastorale, e l'inquieto flusso di coscienza di Young Beidnahga, che a metA traccia cambia timbro trasformandosi in una sorta di carillon.

Returnal (Editions Mego, 2010) A" un lavoro piA1 psicologico. Comincia con uno shock traumatico: il muro di rumore di Nil Admirari in stile noisecore giapponese. Il drone colmo d'ansia di Describing Bodies, la turbolenza gotica di Stress Waves, il trascendente sorgere del sole sulle maree di Pelham Island Road e la minimale casa nera di Where Does Time Go suonano come fasi diverse della vita, che conducono al subconscio ancestrale per percussioni ready-made di Preyouandi.

Ford & Lopatin A" il duo dei musicisti elettronici Daniel Lopatin and Joel Ford, del gruppo Tigercity. Il singolo Emergency Room (2011) ha fatto da apripista a un progetto radicato nel synth-pop anni '80, un sentiero battuto anche in Channel Pressure (Software, 2011).

Le tracce, piA1 brevi, di Replica (Mexican Summer, 2011) campionano vecchi spot televisivi, e sono piA1 calde ed elegiache, in particolare Remember e Sleep Dealer. Molti brani, tra cui Andro, sono sul filo del blando collage di furbizie sonore, ma la melanconica Child Soldier mostra quanto possono suonare umane. L'arte di Lopatin A" qui piA1 raffinata che nei precedenti album, ma viene utilizzata per composizioni meno ambiziose. Quanto meno, si A" liberato dei rimandi a Brian Eno: la sua musica A" troppo nevrotica e piena di glitch per essere paragonata all'inventore dell'ambient statica e rassicurante.

Il singolo Everything Is Working (Hippos In Tanks) e l'EP That We Can Play (Hippos In Tanks) hanno presentato il duo Games, composto da Daniel Lopatin e Joel Ford, che propone una dance industriale (Strawberry Sky).

Daniel Lopatin A" stato attivo anche in Infinity Window, una collaborazione con Taylor Richardson, che ha pubblicato Artificial Midnight (Arbor, 2009), revival new-age in stile Emeralds.

R Plus Seven (Warp, 2013) is too amateurish to be taken seriously. Lopatin cannot focus on a composition and complete it. Zebra is seven minutes of chaotic combinations of vocals and percussions. Problem Areas (a cute wedding of synth-pop and minimalist repetition) and Boring Angel (beginning as a requiem but soon overwhelmed by a dizzying beat) are mildly entertaining, but hardly shocking. Most of the rest is either trivial (like the new-age dance of Along, and the mournful litany of Chrome Country) or unfinished (the subliminal gently gliding ambient music of Inside World).

The EP Commissions I (Warp, 2014) collects occasional music: the eight-minute Music For Steamed Rocks, that butchers a number of interesting ideas, Meet Your Creator, a more cohesive minimalist composition for keyboards and vocals that ends in a magniloquent vocal hymn, and especially the seven-minute I Only Have Eyes For You, a mesmerizing piece for multi-tracked choir (with no electronic keyboard).

The highlight of Commissions II (Warp, 2015) is the 19-minute Suite From Magnetic Rose: subliminal subaquatic polyrhythms, ghostly droning vocals, a pipe organ, some kind of zither, chatter, monk chants. Then the music seems to implode but instead morphs into a tide of placid drones slowly drifting in vast cosmic spaces. It ends in church with a multi-tracked hymn and a solemn organ drone. It is certainly not revolutionary but it shows an honest attempt to produce something less derivative and more challenging.

Garden of Delete (Warp, 2015), ostensibly a concept about a teenage alien called Ezra performed by the fictional band Kaoss Edge, injected a bit of life in Lopatin's lifeless abstractions, but at the expense of causing a jumbled mess of arrangements. Instead of cold elegance, we get an overdose of industrial music and hip-hop filtered through the combinatorial algorithm of a computer. The madcap structures of the songs sound improvised or deliberately childish. A single composition may harbor not only different melodies and beats but even wildly different moods. Ezra boasts, among other things, a shrill cartoonish voice reminiscent of satirical Frank Zappa skits and a guitar riff reminiscecnt of Bryan Adams' Run To You. Sticky Drama pastes together the same distorted childish voice, digital-hardcore electronics, house melody and black-metal blastbeats. The eight-minute Mutant Standard is an even worse offender, with virtually no center of mass other than a relentless tuneless beat that originates in epileptic videogame noise and spawns, after some goofy scat of the chipmunk voice, some foolish musique concrete. After two minutes of droning, Freaky Eyes shoots out in rapid sequence a Bach-ian organ solo, a prog-rock synth melody, someone shouting, dissonance, and so on. Best could be the deconstructed lullaby of Lift, but after two minutes Lopatin doesn't know what to do with the trick of schizoid beats and harpsichord. Lopatin is certainly trying to expand his horizons: Child Of Rage sounds like a remix of soft Brazilian jazz; I Bite Through It alternates between mechanical patterns and chamber jazz; and No Good is even a mournful neosoul ballad. What is missing is not the intention but the inspiration. These collages are neither sophisticated nor cohesive nor interesting. If previous albums annoyed because they were trivial and derivative, this one, frivolous and confused, is instead an irritating experience.

Lopatin also scored the soundtracks for Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring (2013), Ariel Kleiman's Partisan (2015) and Ben & Josh Safdie's Good Time (2017). The latter is a return to retro synth-ambience with Hospital Escape/Access-A-Ride and Leaving the Park. But the compositional limits are still the same: the seven-minute Good Time unwinds a crescendo that doesn't know where to go next. One keeps waiting for the hook or the riff or something to come out of the climax but instead one simply gets a tedious new-age litany that ends in a menacing nebula (yawn). However, The Acid Hits could be his best composition in a while, finally a seamless and dramatic electronic poem with demonic beats, minimalist repetition, and a great solo of cosmic organ. The Pure And The Damned is a lugubrious ballad sung by Iggy Pop.

It is hard to believe that Age Of (Warp, 2018) was made by Lopatin. It begins in neoclassical mode with the slightly-dissonant harpsichord carillon of Age Of. But then it introduces Lopatin the singer-songwriter: Babylon mimics the magniloquent angst of Roger Waters, and The Station is a falsetto neo-soul ballad. The slow melancholy litany Black Snow, wrapped in glitches and distortion, and the romantic Same, drowned in distortions, reenact stereotypes of pop muzak in an avantgarde setting. Meanwhile, Toys 2 is as good as melodramatic instrumental pop gets, the surreal exotic vignette RayCats mocks ethnic movie soundtracks, and Warning is a brutal version of Steve Reich's vocal minimalism (Drumming). These are the most straighforward, linear, cohesive compositions of his career. The cacophonic collaboration with James Blake, We'll Take It, sounds totally out of context. It could be his best album yet.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Francesco Romano Spanò )

R Plus Seven (Warp, 2013) è troppo amatoriale per essere preso seriamente. Leopatin non si può concentrare su un singolo brano e completarlo. Zebra sono sette minuti di caotiche combinazioni vocali e ritmiche. Problem Areas (un matrimonio carino tra synth-pop e ripetizione minimalista) e Boring Angel (che inizia come un requiem ma poi viene presto travolto da un ritmo vorticoso) sono mitemente divertenti ma difficilmente scioccano. Per lo più il resto è banale (come la danza new-age di Along, e la luttuosa litania di Chrome Country) o incompleto (come l’ambiente subliminale di Inside World, che fluttua gentilmente).


L’EP Commission I (Warp, 2014) raccoglie musica occasionale: gli otto minuti di Music For Steamed Rocks, che massacra delle idee interessanti, Meet Your Creator, un pezzo minimalista per tastiere e voci più coeso che termina in un maestoso inno vocale, e soprattutto i sette minuti di I Only Have Eyes For You, un pezzo ipnotico per coro stratificato (senza tastiera elettronica).


La migliore di Commissions II (Warp, 2015) è la Suite From Magnetic Rose (di 19 minuti): poliritmi subacquei subliminali, spettrali droni vocali, un organo a canne, una specie di zither, vibrazione e canti monacali. Dopodiché la musica sembra implodere ma invece muta in una marea di quieti droni alla deriva in vasti spazi cosmici. Finisce in una chiesa con un inno corale ed un solenne drone organico. Non è certamente rivoluzionario, ma dimostra un tentativo onesto di fare della musica meno derivativa e più stimolante.


Garden of Delete (Warp, 2015), immaginato da Leopatin come un concept su un ragazzo alieno di nome Ezra e suonato da una band fittizia chiamata Kaoss Edge, trasfuse un po' di vigore nelle sue spente astrazioni, ma gli arrangiamenti, confusi e caotici, ne risentirono. Al posto della sua fredda eleganza, ci becchiamo un’overdose di musica industriale ed hip-hop filtrata dall’algoritmo combinatorio di un computer. Le strutture folli delle canzoni suonano improvvisate e deliberatamente infantili. Ogni singola composizione può accogliere non solo melodie e ritmi diversi ma persino umori contrastanti. Erza vanta, tra le altre cose, una voce stridula e cartoonesca, reminiscente degli sketches satirici di  Frank Zappa, ed un riff chitarristico che ricorda Run To You di Bryan Adams. Sticky Drama mescola insieme la stessa voce infantile distorta, elettronica hardcore, una melodia house ed una raffica ritmica tipica del black-metal. Mutant Standard è ancora più spregiudicato, senza alcun altro centro gravitazionale se non un implacabile ritmo stonato che nasce dal rumore epilettico di un videogame e che dà vita, dopo qualche buffo squittio, a sciocca musica concreta. Dopo due secondi di ronzio, Freaky Eyes spara a raffica un assolo d’organo Bach-iano, una melodia prog-rock al sintetizzatore, qualcuno che urla, dissonanza, e così via. La migliore potrebbe essere la ninnananna decostruita di Lift, ma dopo due minuti Leopatin non sa che farsene della frenesia di ritmo e clavicembalo. Leopatin sta evidentemente cercando di espandere i suoi orizzonti: Child Of Rage sembra un remix del soffice jazz brasiliano; I Bite Through It si alterna tra una sequenza meccanica ed il jazz da camera; e No Good è persino una triste ballata neo-soul. Quello che manca non sono le intenzioni, ma l’ispirazione. Questi collage non sono né sofisticati né coesi né interessanti. Se i suoi album precedenti erano noiosi perché banali e derivativi, questo invece, frivolo e confuso, è fastidioso.


Leopatin compose anche la colonna sonora per The Bling Ring (2013) di Sofia Coppola, per Partisan (2015) di Ariel Kleiman e per Good Time (2017) di Ben e Josh Safdie. Nell’ultima, Leopatin ritorna all’atmosfera synth-retrò con Hospital Escape/Access-A-Ride e Leaving the Park. Ma i limiti compositivi sono gli stessi di sempre: nei sette minuti di Good Time si distende un crescendo che poi non sa dove andare. Uno aspetta l’appiglio od il riff o qualcosa per uscire dal climax ma alla fine si ritrova una noiosa litania new-age che termina con una minacciosa nebula (uff). Comunque, The Acid Hits potrebbe essere il suo pezzo migliore da un po’, finalmente un poema elettronico, drammatico e uniforme, con un ritmo demonico, ripetizione minimalista ed il grande assolo di un organo cosmico. The Pure and the Damned è una lugubre ballata cantata da Iggy Pop.


È difficile credere che Age Of (Warp, 2018) sia stato composto da Leopatin. Comincia in maniera neoclassica col carillon di clavicembalo leggermente dissonante di Age Of. Ma dopo presenta Leopatin il cantautore: Babylon mima l’ansia magniloquente di Roger Waters, e The Station è una ballata neo-soul in falsetto. La litania lenta e malinconica Black Snow, avvolta da glitches e distorsioni, e la romantica Same, affogata nelle distorsioni, mettono in scena gli stereotipi della muzak in un contesto d’avanguardia. Nel mentre, Toys 2 è buona quanto può esserlo il pop strumentale melodrammatico, la surreale vignetta esotica di RayCats scherza sulle colonne sonore etniche e Warning è una versione brutale del minimalismo vocale di Steve Reich (Drumming). Questi sono i pezzi più limpidi, lineari e coesi della sua carriera. La collaborazione cacofonica con James Blake, We’ll Take It, suona completamente fuori posto. Questo potrebbe essere il suo album migliore finora.

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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