Oneohtrix Point Never Builds Sound in the Space Between
October 23rd 2023
- :: Oneohtrix Point Never interview on Deep Web with Krishtie Mofazzal and Chuyi Wang
Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never is going deep. His musical output is a jarring, and at times violent, explorative journey from the organic to the artificial. On his latest LP Again, Lopatin examines his own musical memory from the familiar to the unknown. He calls into question his identity as a consumer of music, reflecting upon the sounds that make up his own memory only to obliterate them into tiny digital fragments.
The artist joined Krishtie Mofazzal and Chuyi Wang on Deep Web on the day of his album’s release for a special episode dedicated to the Oneohtrix Point Never project.
“Every time I start a project I try to go in my imagination back to the source of my excitement for the medium itself and just try to get in touch with why I’m here again and doing this thing, what’s driving me to keep doing it”.
Sonically, Again moves from live orchestral strings, to glitchy digital explosions, forward-thinking synth jams to silky, alt-rock ballads. On the track ‘Memories of Music’, Lopatin moves us from a dreamy, undulating world of folky guitars and effortlessly harmonising synths to an abrasive prog-rocky, sci-fi soundscape. It’s these moments of intense contrast that Lopatin really considers the listening environment as an influence on the music itself.
“I just started thinking about computer speakers. Like the difference between the sort of introverted approach and the secret of listening to music that no one can hear except for you, versus music that’s on speakers that sometimes is purposely aggressive, invading other people’s space. Where you want to share, you’re open, you’re less withdrawn about it and stuff like that.”
On tracks ‘World Outside’, ‘Plastic Antique’ and ‘Nightmare Paint’, sampled sounds are mangled into kaleidoscopic grains that toe the edge of what we might consider to be musical. Lopatin’s adventurous use of digital music technology here draws inspiration from the explorative spirit that producers have applied to recording technology throughout musical history, from the dawn of rock music all the way through to the emergence of post-rock in the 1990s and the glitch records of the early 2000s.
“Many of the things you guys cover on [Deep Web] stem in some ways from adventures in music that people were taking, you know, in the nineties and the two thousands, that were themselves standing on the shoulders of giants. Arguably we’re going back to the mid sixties where people really started messing around with recorded technology and all kinds of things.”
Even if we have come to expect it from Lopatin, the diversity in texture present on this record is truly astounding. Layers upon layers of recorded sounds interweave, build, and deconstruct themselves from incredibly dense soundscapes to minimal productions and back again. He pushes his music to the brink of collapsing in on itself, relishing in the challenge of finding out how much information can fit into a single song. Being well known as a film composer, the cinematic feel in the chaos of Lopatin’s music is undeniable. Some of the sounds on this record could exist as foley or ambient noise for an unknown accompanying screen-play, where more and more scenes are discovered with each.
“You’re not capable of comprehending all of the things that are going on in one listen because it’s already done by the time you’ve considered it. So what I’m trying to do is add a lot of layers and interesting things so that you want to come back. And you want to explore it from different angles and see what’s under how it ticks.”
Being a self-proclaimed child of the internet, the artificial, digital realm is a space that Lopatin’s music has become to be known to exist in. However, on this record he creates space for more organic sounds to coexist alongside the gritty, bit-crushed 1s and 0s. Live string compositions from Berlin-based Nomad Ensemble open the record on ‘Elseware’ with a subtle, rhythmic melancholy, before the title track ‘Again’ races off in a dramatic, electronic ascent. After the pulsing blips and arpeggiated synths of ‘Plastic Antique’, the lush piano and strings of ‘Gray Subviolet’ bring us back down into a sonically familiar world. Ultimately, as on the lead single for the album ‘A Barely Lit Path,’ the record’s string compositions combine with glitchy synth pads and digital noise, melding into a complexity that neither electronic or organic could achieve by themselves.
“It’s a very dense record and I wanted a kind of an overture, an intermission and a kind of a conclusion type thing that was real strings. And then I also wanted to put into question what else you were hearing and how often you were hearing it…There’s fake strings, there’s real strings, there’s just strings galore.”
If the place in between the real and the digital is where Oneohtrix Point Never exists as a project, nothing grounds it there more than Lopatin’s use of vocals. On Again the human voice appears throughout in many different forms. From the post-rock, monotone singing on ‘Krumville’ to the synthesised, chopped chorus of voices on ‘Again’ and the robotic, vocoded verses of ‘A Barely Lit Path’. The human voice anchors Lopatin’s compositions on Again to the real world, no matter how twisted or artificial it may be.
Listen back to the full Oneohtrix Point Never interview on Deep Web above. Buy/stream his 11th studio album Again below.