Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
Age Of is Daniel Lopatin's most ambitious album yet as Oneohtrix Point Never
Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never is almost a household name by now. He is a curatorial necromancer, upending interpretations of the retro, upcycling familiar musical tones in a way that runs the gauntlet of the uncanny valley. Lopatin’s ninth album, Age Of is an encyclopedic deconstruction of digital and musical nostalgia. A true millennial, Lopatin eagerly absorbs high and low culture, drawing influence from once taboo music like nu-metal and stadium pop, neo-soul and new age.
With its ominous, vaguely declarative title, Age Of begins as a clash of civilizations and histories. The most obvious reference to musical kitsch is the tinny antiquity of the harpsichord. On the title track, harpsichord and fiddle crumple like a folding canvas under tape warble. Manifold and the mournful RayCats display warped wormholes of sound, as if a symphony was culled from the catalogue of a Natural History Museum. 'Hyper-real' used to be a popular term to describe Lopatin’s soundscapes; 'hyper-temporal' might be a better word for it now. The album has a grand, apocalyptic vision much like 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Lopatin has cited as a big influence. It also features a lot of original vocals – of which Lopatin’s is the least inspired, despite a transfixing performance on single Black Snow. ANOHNI, though well advertised, is unfortunately underutilised.
There are clear signs that Age Of was composed alongside his award-winning soundtrack for the film Good Time, but there are also references to past work. Singing synth leads and static screams find their evil twins on the claustrophobic suite of Warning and We’ll Take It. The spray of syllabic culch on Manifold is reminiscent of a split LP with Rene Hell released in 2012: Music for Reliquary House / In 1980 I Was a Blue Square. The last track, a foil to the new vision laid out on the album opener, bears the only remnants of Lopatin’s early ambient loop-based work. It's a gift to fans of the early Oneohtrix Point Never who released a trilogy of aqueous, delicate loops now collected in a 2xCD set called Rifts.
Lopatin's work is notably elevated by contributions from Eli Keszler, an avant-garde percussionist whose marriage of free jazz and technological stardust seems to evoke the most urbane, chaotic geometries of his native New York City. Keszler’s handiwork is all over the record like radiation from a Big Bang. When he isn’t giving the pop-leaning numbers a space brothel sultry swing, he introduces a mad variety of percussive tools to Lopatin’s sound library, which is by now mostly familiar. The standout Still Stuff That Doesn’t Happen portmanteaus neo-soul with a timeless, idiosyncratic mesh of world instruments, kotos, washboards and power ballad synths.
It's the wealth of exquisitely baroque moments, exploring history as a pliable, multi-dimensional rift, that makes Age Of Lopatin's most ambitious album yet. There is exceptional sonic depth, and those who were confounded by his dive into industrial alternative on Garden of Delete will notice a bewildering continuity. This new Oneohtrix Point Never is a public creative force as well. He’s the star of the latest Red Bull-sponsored music festival and a collaborator with such a diverse cast of artists as FKA Twigs, David Byrne, Iggy Pop and even Usher. One listen to Age Of makes it apparent how extravagant and alluring these collaborations are. Lopatin also no longer wears a mask – his press photo is staged yet unpretentious, revealing a calm insomniac pointing to an obviously symbolic ball-cap: 'New World' it says. Age Of. Age of what, exactly? How about every age. But alas, it's not an age free of darkness. The spectre of apocalypse, but it is a beautiful apocalypse indeed.
Listen to: Toys 2, Still Stuff That Doesn’t Happen