‘It will astound you.’
The Korgis may not have been prophesizing the likes of Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, but that doesn’t stop me from employing the lyric in prelude to this fantastic adventure. So come on. Open up. Change your heart.
When a tonic this refreshing comes along under strange and rare circumstances, the first impulse is to bottle it up and zealously guard what we can, keeping the secret inside – lest the surprise and wonder be spoiled once the wider world is clued in. The exuberant thrill of something so foreign and new, mainlining into that place where awestruck dreams and hazy childhood memories intersect, is a thing to behold. After burrowing deep into the material and subsisting on the sound alone, though, we emerge with the burning desire to shout about this revelation from the nearest hill top. We want to place it in the hands of our friends and loved ones, imploring them to give it a try. We get on the internet and write a blog post about it.
But first, we live in the belly of this beast for a while. The world inside is warm, coated in a futuristic glaze and resting on a plate of brittle nostalgia. The illusion of inhabiting my greatest preadolescent sci-fi fantasies threatens to crack at any moment, but the dream sustains over any running time. The most inviting synthesizer tones on the planet mix with an untethered, noisy veneer to coat the entire sonic range from genteel new age to corrosive heavy drone, spiked with the best and brightest futuristic love letters the past has had to offer. From Vangelis‘ darkly soaring Blade Runner score to the paranoid stabs of The Terminator, Terry Riley‘s groundbreaking dreamscape A Rainbow In Curved Air to the stark electronic shores of Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra Tempel), this territory is clearly the province of an indelibly spacey imagination.
Zones Without People, my personal introduction to the artist, is the most obvious place to look now. In a league populated by a select few contemporary dreamers and astral drifters like Emeralds and White Rainbow (see New Clouds and Best of 2009), Lopatin grasps the sonic galaxy whole cloth and spirits it away to his lab where every star, planet, and asteroid belt is shot through and wrung out with the latest in mind-bending laser technology. Like the lush oxygen garden aboard the Icarus on its journey to reignite the sun, the entire work is suffused with the gritty footprint of organic life – bird calls, frogs, bubbling rivers, wind and all manner of insects echo from the depths – and organized into a most efficient delivery system for aural dopamine. Channeling the aforementioned musical gods and hinting at further realms yet unexplored, the half hour recording transcends and transports far beyond its modest borders. This is a monumental trip, in every sense of the word.
Next we have A Pact Between Strangers, a beguiling triptych of the most effervescent, liquid shapes Lopatin has worked with. Sandwiched between two 12 minute throbbing drone epics, the title track strikes a soft nerve between the yawning pulse of Gas, the hard lines of straight Detroit techno, and the subtly sampledelic nature of Zones Without People‘s most tactile passages. Beginning as a relaxed sequel to the opener, When I Get Back From New York floats from the most gently narcotic river bed upwards to find a maelstrom on the surface, a dervish of synth rapids and hissing meteor showers. As the piece winds to a close and the solar winds exhale, total surrender has been achieved. This is music to offer oneself up to completely. Embrace it, climb inside. Once acclimated, the journey outward is harsh. The dials here are always pegged at elation, so it’s best not to make a move in that direction.
[with the originals impossibly hard to come by on their limited vinyl and CD-R releases, the majority of OPN’s output has been remastered and packaged into the 2cd Rifts compilation, available at boomkat, amazon, or directly through the man himself at pointnever.com]