On ‘Age Of,’ Oneohtrix Point Never Cements His Status As One Of Music’s Greatest Shapeshifters

07.10.18 8 months ago

Atiba Jefferson

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Oneohtrix Point Never, the main guise of electronic musician Dan Lopatin, makes albums that are mutations on mutations. In the past, he’s incorporated krautrock and IDM in his early work, disjointed alternative rock in Garden Of Delete, and loves himself a good piano ballad he can skew, as is the case with his Iggy Pop collaboration “The Beautiful And The Damned.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that one of his favorite films is Terminator 2, which he calls “biblical.” Lopatin is a shapeshifter at his core, the T-1000 of electronic.

His latest record, Age Of, which came out last month on Warp, takes on a lot of forms in its 43 minutes. Based on Lopatin’s concept of an AI reminiscing on humanity in an age distant from ours, it begins with harpsichord, making you think he’s turned to pastoral pop, but quickly shifts. “Black Snow,” the album’s leadoff single, is dour and apocalyptic, a “Morning Dew” for our time. Songs will end abruptly, pleasant voices will blend hellish screams on a dime, as is the case with “Babylon.” It would all sound seemingly random to those less initiated with his work, but his career has proven him to be deceptively deliberate.

“Now there’s basically no music that’s not made by Skynet,” he says of “The Station,” a song that originally began as something he wrote for Usher, and is still tangentially some alien R&B. Even so, Age Of features the most outside collaborators of any of his albums, including singer Anonhi, noise genius Prurient, (aka Dominick Fernow, who Lopatin called “a chaos agent” who brings the “current anxiety we’re feeling as a society collapsing in on itself”), and additional production from James Blake. Our lives are ruled by algorithms, and Lopatin not only bends them to his will with his music, he emphasizes the humans subjected to them.

Recently I chatted with Lopatin about how Brian Wilson’s idea of “teenage symphonies to God” is the ideal for music, why simulation theory might be played out in 2018, and, obviously, Terminator 2.

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