Understanding the music of Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never is as difficult as pronouncing his project’s name. It’s experimental as I’ve come to define the word, which is to say I’ve had to find his records in the “avant-garde” section at Amoeba Records. His music certainly wouldn’t be considered readily accessible, but that’s kind of the point: while Oneohtrix Point Never’s tinkering compositions and emotionally-challenging electronic atmospherics may throw you, you want to put in the effort required to listen to it.
I’ve been a fan of Lopatin since the moment I got through one listen of his 2011 effort, Replica, reviewing last year’s R Plus Seven for this site. Needless to say, I knew I had to see him live when he performed in LA, which he did at The Echoplex earlier this month.
Oneohtrix Point Never’s performance took the “avant-garde” aspect of his music quite literally, as it unfolded more like an art piece than a concert. The stage was completely dark save for the laptop hazily illuminating Lopatin’s face and the above imagery on a large screen, which itself often appeared murky and flashed violently to match the music’s cold electronic landscapes. That meant that I really couldn’t take any photos, but this shred of evidence should give you an idea of what you can expect visually at his shows.
I still don’t quite understand the purpose of these visuals, but given the kind of composer Lopatin is, they were weirdly ethereal in comparison to the synth/MIDI-driven music he was playing. From what I could tell, most of his performance consisted of material from R Plus Seven, including the brilliant “Still Life” and “Boring Angel,” which both sounded even more incredible given The Echoplex’s great acoustics.
Disappointingly, though perhaps understandably, Lopatin did not perform any works from Replica (the album that got me into his project in the first place, as you read earlier), which are primarily sample-based and drone-heavy and not consistent with this new set of works from R Plus Seven and his earlier MIDI-present works. Still, during his performance, he crafted his computerized sounds into fully-formed pieces that both intrigued and challenged my mind as I tried to make sense of it all.
Oneohtrix Point Never’s performance is best summed up as a bit of electronic performance art. You didn’t necessarily have to see anything while you were there, as you could have easily just basked in the darkness of the venue with the artist’s unexpected and tantalizing compositions both thrilling and aggravating the senses. But the visuals that were on display (and that you could actually see) did provide a weirdly beautiful accompaniment to his complexity, as if to accurately display what was going on in his mind as he performed these pieces.
I’m not sure when Oneohtrix Point Never will be back in the States, but if you do get a chance to see him live, it’ll likely be the most intriguing night out you’ll ever have. If this show was your first exposure to his works, I can only hope that you sought out his music immediately after the performance.
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