Favorite Albums Of The Year(So Far) : Oneohtrix Point Never’s ‘Good Time’ S/T

I came to Oneohtrix Point Never around 3 years ago. I think I’d avoided them because Pitchfork was telling me that I should love them. Of course I’m going to go against that urge to listen and absolutely NOT take advice from a bunch of pretentious music critics catering to the “what’s happening now” crowd. This mindset is dangerous, ignorant, and just plain wrong, especially when I suppose I’m somewhat of an amateur music critic myself. I mean, I could never write for a ‘zine of any kind. I write in a much more personal way than any respectable magazine could tolerate.

Anyways, I’m getting off point here(yes, there’s a point.)

So back to OPN…I finally jumped into Daniel Lopatin’s world in the fall of 2014. Since Boards of Canada were now on Warp Records and Lopatin was on Warp Records I thought I should at least give him a shot. I bought R Plus Seven and immediately felt my mind warp in a significantly unnatural way. Oneohtrix Point Never’s music, to my ears, felt like stepping inside someone’s skull and walking thru their thoughts and secrets. Songs were more like impressionistic paintings relating hopes, fears, daydreams, and nightmares in these aural tapestries. I hadn’t been that excited about a band since Boards of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children cracked open my head and rewired my brain. This electronic music wasn’t purposed for the dancefloor. It was made to help you connect with the universe and engage with the world around you. R Plus Seven was catnip for this Midwestern curmudgeon introvert.

Of course I fell right into a OPN wormhole. I began grabbing as many records as I could. Betrayed In The Octagon, Drawn and Quartered, Russian Mind, Returnal, and Replica were all immediately snagged up. All were these same but different musical worlds. Earlier records were more fractured new age and psychedelic ambient than the later stuff, which delved into more modern and percussive sounds.

This same year was the year I discovered the wonderful world of panic attacks and anxiety. Discovering Oneohtrix Point Never this year seemed to be sort of a blessing in disguise as I found real solace in these albums. Amidst the noise, chaos, and manic sonic explosions I found a center where I could calm down. My wife had started a new job earlier in 2014 and she’d begun traveling, which left me at home making sure all three kids were getting up for school, getting homework done, my oldest was getting to band camp and work on time and all the while working 8 hours and hoping the children were doing what they were supposed to be doing at home when they were off for summer vacation.

Oneohtrix Point Never provided a sonic place I could escape to and realign my head.

Suffice it to say, I will always have a soft spot for Daniel Lopatin and OPN. 2015s Garden Of Delete was one of my favorite records that year and felt like a total reimagining of Lopatin as a composer and electronic musician. It was hard to imagine where he could even go from there. Turns out film scoring was where he was going, and it was a brilliant step.

I still have yet to see The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, but if Lopatin’s score is any indication it’s an absolute adrenaline-fueled psychedelic trip through New York City. I haven’t seen any of The Safdie Brothers’ previous films, and if I’m being honest I had no idea who they were before I’d read Oneohtrix Point Never was scoring their movie. I figure if Daniel Lopatin is good with them then so am I.

The soundtrack. If I didn’t know it was a soundtrack to a film I would’ve easily believed this to be just a new OPN album. It comes together beautifully as a sonic journey. There’s a few moments of dialogue, but that doesn’t feel that out of place for OPN. It has moments of tension and noisy chaos that comes with the territory, but there’s also moments of musical beauty. Something like “The Acid Hits” proposes to the listener pyramid-like sounds stacked upon each other, while “Leaving The Park” harkens back to earlier OPN musical adventures. It flutters and bounces like music to some ancient video game.

Even with all the impressive sounds and musical moods on this album, my standout track is the final one. “The Pure And The Damned” stands completely on its own as this fractured and beautiful pop song. It’s a piano-driven song sung by Iggy Pop. “The pure always act for love/The damned always act from love” Pop sings as he talks about going to a place where “we can pet the crocodiles”. It’s a bizarre and tender track. I can only imagine after seeing the film that it will mean that much more. I honestly love this song.

I don’t know if this would be a great place for the uninitiated to start or not, but once you have been initiated you must find your way to this record. It’s essential OPN.

 

Oneohtrix Point Never : Good Time Soundtrack

If you told me that Daniel Lopatin was actually from another planet or dimension that wouldn’t surprise me a bit. The music he creates as Oneohtrix Point Never is otherworldly electronic in nature. It’s progressed from drone-y ambient on his debut Betrayed In The Octagon to the more deep space pop ambitions of 2015s Garden Of Delete. From building mystique and mood in his songs to the ghostly production that goes to help create the OPN worlds on each of his excellent albums, Lopatin is one of the most unique and original voices working in electronic music.

Getting to the point that OPN is at, one may wonder where to go from here. Daniel Lopatin went the film scoring route, first working with Brian Reitzell on Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and now on The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time. Oneohtrix Point Never always seemed like a good way to go to score a film and this excellent LP proves it. It’s intense, propulsive, and one of the best albums of the year.

If you’re at all familiar with OPN, then you know sort of what to expect when hitting play. Lopatin’s film work doesn’t stray too far from his albums. Listening to albums like Replica and R Plus Seven it’s easy to imagine them scoring some imaginary film. Maybe some dystopian sci fi flick, or some hedonistic, neon-lit trek through a city night life. Good Time is sort of like the latter. It concentrates on two brothers, one of which has a learning disability and is caught by the cops after a robbery attempt. The other brother spends a night trying to locate the funds that would pay his brother’s bail. It seems to be one long panic attack, and Oneohtrix Point Never seems to have scored that attack beautifully.

There’s some great contrast throughout this LP. Something like “Hospital Escape/Access-A-Ride” is sleek and moves along like slow burning dread, while “Bail Bonds” starts with some of the film’s dialogue that begins to warp and melt into a propulsive synth. It dissolves into a distorted beat and what sounds like wavering guitar. “Entry To White Castle” has a Tangerine Dream/Michael Mann feel to it. There’s a real 80s vibe. “Romance Apocalypse” once again summons the great Tangerine Dream here, bringing to mind their work on Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark. “The Acid Hits” has the bizarro musical insanity brewing in it that Lopatin cooked up on his own excellent album Returnal.

Daniel Lopatin does what you’d hope he would do, and that’s make an excellent Oneohtrix Point Never record. He does that easily. I haven’t seen Good Time yet, but I can only imagine how well this record and the film work together. For me, though, the absolute highlight is the final track “The Pure And The Damned”. It’s a collaboration with Iggy Pop and it’s pure and weird and beautiful. It’s probably the most upfront song Lopatin has ever written. Pop gives one of his most earnest and honest performances in years. It’s a piano-driven song with lyrics that evoke such huge emotions and this child-like honesty that I think encapsulates the relationship between the brothers in the film. It’s hard to describe. It’s just beautiful.

Daniel Lopatin continues to explore and reinvent his musical alter ego known as Oneohtrix Point Never. His Good Time Soundtrack is one of the most engaging listens of the year; it’s dark, intimate, bombastic, and it beats wildly with an analog heart.

8.8 out of 10

 

 

Afternoon Walks On Mars

I’m sure most folks when you mention the music of summer think of The Beach Boys, Bananarama, Ice Cube, BTO, or something produced by the likes of Mark Ronson or Paul Williams. Me? I think Oneohtrix Point Never. In particular, the album Drawn and Quartered. Nothing gets my summer sunburn going more than the hazy swaths of dreamy synth that come rolling into my ears when I listen to this album. I feel that this record is Daniel Lopatin at his most sublime.

So what does a heavy ambient synth record have to do with summer? Well since we’re talking about me the reasoning is ridiculous, but I’ll try to explain the best I can.

So a couple of summers ago I started walking and running after work out in my neighborhood and an adjoining neighborhood across the street. I found myself getting pretty bored in the gym and the outdoors seemed like a great place to work up a sweat and have a view while I was doing it. It was a really hot summer back in 2014 and during these scorchers I found myself either listening to Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, Bernard Szajner’s Visions Of Dune, or Rudiger Lorenz’ Invisible Voices. It was late July and early August and I was deep in the heavy synth albums. For some strange reason they seemed to mesh well with my hot afternoon walks. It was as if the sounds I heard seemed to come directly up from the pavement in waves of heat. The music lent itself well to these hour-long excursions in the sweltering Midwest afternoons.

Around this same time I’d started getting into Oneohtrix Point Never. I’d tried out their R Plus Seven album but hadn’t yet found my way in. I jumped back to their first album Betrayed In The Octagon and immediately fell for that album. Working my way through Daniel Lopatin’s catalog I came across a couple albums that were sort of off the radar. The Fall Of Time and Drawn And Quartered. These two albums seemed to live completely on their own, and had a meditative vibe. They both have the vibe of some long lost lo fi sci fi flick. But that summer it was Drawn And Quartered that truly won me over.

Drawn And Quartered fit right in with my afternoon walk soundtracks. As I made my way through the still developing Hawthorn neighborhood the many hilly and empty lots seemed like hillsides of some long lost and abandoned civilization. It was like afternooon walks on Mars. The sun beating down on me, sweat soaking my beat up old Nike hat I made my way through this strange and vast environment that folks call “the suburbs” as Daniel Lopatin’s musical kaleidoscope burrowed into my brain.

FullSizeRender“Lovegirls Precinct” opens the album and is quick and to the point. Short and rounded synth jabs percolate to the surface and make their way to your ears like a Casio version of Steve Reich. It’s a warm feeling that gives way to the excellent “Ships Without Meaning”. It’s nearly 10 minutes of ambient bliss. The sound is reminiscent of water rolling across a flattened beach. Wave after wave eloquently rolls onto the shore. Within the heat of an afternoon walk this one really calms the body down. The music opens ones head to let ideas out as well as letting them in. “Terminator Lake” does put me in mind of James Cameron’s 80s sci fi classic, albeit at a distance. It’s hypnotic and spacey, with just a hint of dread in those bass-y synth notes. “Transmat Memories” sounds like a android chase through some futuristic city. Flying in chrome pods through a Fritz Lang-like landscape in order to escape extermination in the great incinerators. It’s a jumpy and boppin’ kind of sound throughout. “A Pact Between Strangers” is a lulling piece of music; a feeling of longing and buried desires with the sound of synthetic wildlife breaking through the surface. “When I Get Back From New York” is a glorious and epic piece that runs close to 17 minutes. If you’re at all familiar with Sinoia Caves then you’ll understand the feel of this track. It’s a dulling pulse throughout as whizzes and wheezes come in and out of the mix. The heat of a summer day meshes with the noise here quite well. Sound and feel come together almost perfectly within this 17 minutes. “I Know It’s Taking Pictures From Another Plane(Inside Your Sun)” takes you completely by surprise as it’s a short acoustic number with Lopatin singing. A complete 180 degrees from the rest of the album.

I find Daniel Lopatin to be an extremely interesting guy. The music of Oneohtrix Point Never took a serious turn with 2010s Returnal, marking a noisier and loop-based sound. Since then he’s honed in on a completely unique musical trip which I’ve grown to love. Last year’s Garden Of Delete felt like another turning point that melded all aspects of Oneohtrix Point Never into something wholly different and modern sounding. Like alien dance music, or otherworldly EDM. Still, I do tend to gravitate towards the older, more ambient OPN. Betrayed In The Octagon, The Fall Of Time, Russian Mind, and of course Drawn And Quartered.

My afternoon walks in the Midwest heat wouldn’t be the same without them.

 

Betrayed In The Octagon

I was trying to remember the first time I heard Oneohtrix Point Never. You see, that’s what I do in my spare time, people. I sit aroundIMG_1415 and try and remember pointless drivel like “What year did ‘Paris, Texas’ come out?” and “What year did I drive 5 hours to Peoria, Illinois to see Rush and Primus?” and “When was the first time I ever heard Oneohtrix Point Never?” That’s the kind of life I lead here. I’m not out kicking ass and taking names, or expanding my mind with hallucinogenic drugs and writing the great American novel. No, I’m sitting at home complaining about how my leg is sore(sciatica, chaotica) and spinning weird, buzzing records as I get all up in arms over the proper beer glass to drink a hearty bourbon barrel-aged stout out of.

Jesus, I’m pathetic.

Despite all of that, I think the first time I ever heard Oneohtrix Point Never was when R Plus Seven came out in 2013 and I wondered what the big deal was. Drone-y stuff from a weird guy with a beard from Brooklyn. Yeah? So?? “They say it sounds like John Carpenter or something.” Oh really? No, it actually sounds like haunted new age music. It sounds like something you’d hear played in one of those earthy stores where they sell geodes, arrowheads, and seashell necklaces, along with books on how to keep Mother Earth clean and feed your family for a week with what you threw away a month ago. You know, stuff like that. Despite my initial underwhelming reaction I decided to check out the previous album Replica and pretty much had the same reaction. This is weird…where’s the haunting synths?….will someone please answer the goddamned phone???…oops, sorry. That last one was directed at my kids.

So fast forward to the fall of 2014. On a whim I thought I’d give Oneohtrix Point Never another shot. First album I hit up is the 2007 debut Betrayed In The Octagon. Firstly because the black and white album cover looked like a Twilight Zone collage mixed with a 60s magazine fashion ad. It struck something in me. Secondly, that title, Betrayed In The Octagon, reminded me of an old Chuck Norris movie, The Octagon, starring Norris and Lee Van Cleef from 1980. It holds great memories. Betamax dreams, folks. Anyways, I think I just wasn’t ready for Daniel Lopatin’s brand of atmospheric, drone-y music because this album struck something in me and struck hard. Opening track “Woe Is The Transgression I” opens like some strange, impressionistic piece inspired by a firestorm on Mars or something. Big, loping noise envelopes you as the song slowly tracks nearly 9 minutes of your life away. It’s truly heavy and heady stuff. There’s a “Woe Is The Transgression II” later on that sucks nearly 11 minutes of your bandwidth away and it’s even darker and more desolate. But it’s not all space madness on here. “Behind The Bank” feels like that double sunrise on Tatooine, or the moment those purple dust clouds clear and you see the new day’s light. Sounds sculpted from analog noisemakers always make for better sounds, and Lopatin surrounds Oneohtrix Point Never’s world with plenty of analog bliss here. But this isn’t about geeking out over gear, this guy really seems to take a serious mental trip on these songs. “Eyeballs” has the buzzing vibe of androids waking from a 100 year shutdown, while “Betrayed In The Octagon” is all oscillating fervor and wheezing square waves inching their way into the great abyss. “Parallel Minds” feels like a Boards of Canada interlude, while “Laser to Laser” almost sounds and reads like some sort of Philip K. Dick term for Replicant sex.

IMG_1413Betrayed In The Octagon will probably always remain my favorite Oneohtrix Point Never album as a whole. Soon after picking this up, I binged and bought up four or five of Lopatin’s records. All of them hit the spot with me, and they all felt like progressions to some next creative plateau. They all possess that new age-y thing, but a dark version of it. Big ideas sprawled out in electronic code. R Plus Seven has become one of my favorite albums as well, and not because of the John Carpenter talk. It actually sounds nothing like John Carpenter to me. It does, however, feel haunted on some level. Not scary, but alone and mournful. “Boring Angel” and “Chrome Country” are beautiful bookends for that record. Replica is this crazy experience of loops and bits of dreams all sewn together into this amazing album. He becomes the master of his craft on that album. There’s a couple smaller records I bought as well. Russian Mind and Drawn and Quartered feel like these smaller interludes that led up into some of Lopatin’s biggest artistic turns. They’re both quieter, restrained albums that are quite lovely on a rainy day.

Daniel Lopatin may indeed by a weird bearded guy from Brooklyn(listen to Garden Of Delete and you’ll understand why), but he’s also a musical genius in my book. He’s one of those rare artists that has a very distinct vision for what he creates. Maybe not rare, but so many artists today ramble and seem to be floating in space with no real direction. Lopatin and OPN each time out feel as if there’s a direction and story involved. You’re not just meandering around in the dark occasionally connecting to something in the abyss. It took Betrayed In The Octagon to get me to see what he’s trying to do and that he’s got a vision for the music. It’s an album I visit often and will probably continue to until I finally get that kicking ass and taking names thing down.

Editor’s Note: In response to the above questions from earlier: Paris,Texas came out in 1984, I saw Rush and Primus in Peoria, Illinois in 1994, and it was 2013 when I first listened to Oneohtrix Point Never. 

Oneohtrix Point Never : Garden of Delete

It’s not often that I can’t think of the words to describe an album. I can usually scrounge up enough vernacular to create a pretty good idea of what’s in between theoneohtrix grooves. But with Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, and his newest album Garden of Delete, it can be quite perplexing to paint a clear picture of what he’s doing this time around. Going back to the first OPN records, it was a lot of drone and space-y ambient textures. Betrayed In The Octagon, Russian Mind, and Zones Without People had the vibe of early Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, but with a darker view of the outside world. Replica made brilliant use of loops which made for a whole new vibe, while R Plus Seven felt haunted and alone. A soundtrack to a content dream that turns into a nightmare, only to head back into the light towards the end.

Oneohtrix Point Never toured with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden last year, which prompted Daniel Lopatin to change the scope of his music. He wanted to create something more modern; something more rock-influenced. The result is Garden of Delete, a mix of distorted vocals, dancier beats, and industrial muscle that is both the weirdest album by OPN, and one of the best.

So there was a story about how this album was a result of the influence of an extraterrestrial named Ezra that came into contact with Lopatin. The album does indeed have somewhat of a story regarding this tale, and there’s even a song called “Ezra”, but I’m not going to get into that. I’m just going to talk about the songs themselves. “Intro” is a distorted voice(presumably the alien in question) which leads into “Ezra”, a loop-filled track that feels like snippets of memories sewn together with Lopatin’s musical storytelling. The song picks up in the middle section like some manic techno freakout before the bottom drops out. “Sticky Drama” feels like OPNs attempt at a pop hit. It contains big bombastic swaths of synth you might hear on some big radio hit, as well as heavily effected vocals that could be some pop diva disguised as a robot. Pretty soon though the song descends into some hellish, industrial explosion, like Skinny Puppy devouring Aphex Twin in an attempt to digest its essence. There may be moments of modern pop extravagance here, but make no mistake this is an Oneohtrix Point Never record.

“SDFK” is a quiet interlude that reminds one of earlier OPN records, and it takes us into the album’s centerpiece “Mutant Standard”. An eight minute ride into deep space and some dark subconscious, the NIN influence is noticeable but it never feels like Lopatin is aping Mr. Reznor. Elements of ambient soundscapes and driving techno, the song is carried along by a percussive center that allows for strange aural delights to come in and out of the mix, racing from left to right. “Mutant Standard” feels very much alive and relevant. All of those artists attempting to do what Daniel Lopatin does need to sit down and listen to this song and go back to the drawing board. “Child of Rage” is another track that showcases the elegance Lopatin brings to electronic and synth music that may sometimes gets lost in the weird. It’s like Weather Report and Cluster were enveloped into an old IBM motherboard. “I Bite Through It” sounds like Nitzer Ebb and New Order through metal shavings and bad dreams, while Stanley Jordan plays over the mania. “Freaky Eyes”, “Lift”, and “No Good” take the album to it’s eventual end, with “No Good” being the reserved, quiet piece this album needs to end on.

Garden of Delete never wavers from the journey it starts at the beginning. It seems Daniel Lopatin isn’t resting on his laurels by sticking to the same formula. What this album proves is that he is as ever-changing and as vital as the music he creates as Oneohtrix Point Never. Not sure how he can top this album, but I’m happy to listen and see if he can.

8.8 out of 10

 

 

Mahler & Me

We made the drive to the Fort Wayne International Airport yesterday to drop my wife off. She flew down to Raleigh, North Carolina for training. It’ll be an all week affair down south, so the children and I are left to our own devices. There will probably be lots of nothing happening, which I’m grateful for. It’s close enough to the end of the school year that nobody has anything going on after school. My wife’s birthday is tomorrow, so she’ll be celebrating 41 years of livin’ south of the Mason/Dixon line this year. The kids were bummed about this(especially our son), but after bribing them with books, toys, and a new comforter(as well as fries and shakes) everyone seemed content for the moment.

Fear not little ones, for we shall celebrate your Mama’s birthday when she returns. We pick her up at 9:40pm Friday night, but I imagine we will do that celebrating thing Saturday or Sunday. We did, however, have a pre-birthday lunch at the always tasty Polito’s in Mishawaka, IN after our oldest daughter’s band competition on Saturday. Rigatoni in vodka sauce, Philly Cheese Steak, deep dish pizza, spagetti in marinara sauce, and a stromboli were served, as well as some excellent breadsticks.

So back to yesterday, I treated myself to a couple “my gal’s gone, so I need to buy something to fill the emptiness” records. The first was, of all things, a Gustav Mahler album. To be exact, it was Bruno Walter conducting The Columbia Symphony Orchestra. It’s on the Odyssey Label via Columbia Records. The piece is Mahler’s Symphony No.9, and up to the point I saw the vinyl in the bin I really knew nothing about Mahler or his damn symphony. Truth is, I bought this record on the look alone. The album art completely sold me. Columbia had a way with art design back in the day, and especially with their jazz, classical, and more avante garde artists. This one, with its cube design, photos of the artist, and the giant number “9” amongst clouds, mountains, and trees really grabbed me. Hell, this could’ve been a Muppets album and I would’ve snagged it. Whoever was the art direction head for Columbia back in the day, kudos to you my friend. Kudos to you.

So you’re wondering “How is it, man?” Well, it’s full of that pomp and circumstance you would expect to hear from a late 19th century Austrian late-Romantic composer. “I. Andante comodo” and “IV. Adagio: Sehr langsam und noch zuruckhaltend” are my favorite movements, but it all flows with an intense, emotional rapture that the Austrians are known for. I will listen to this quite a bit, and not just because I love the sleeve design(though I will stare at it quite a bit.)

I also picked up Oneohtrix Point Never’s Commissions II, the RSD 2015 release I couldn’t get my hands on last weekend. It’s a totally different experience than his other albums. Side one is falling into industrial territory, with “Bullet Hell Abstraction I” exploding through the speakers like Skinny Puppy or Nitzer Ebb on a Wendy Carlos bender. It’s intense and stuttering, like buzzsaws set to destroy. “Suite from Magnetic Rose” is a 19-minute epic that takes up the whole of side two and it’s beautiful and vast and like a stroll through the milky way. It’s Daniel Lopatin at his best.

Okay, so that’s where I’m at. I’ll miss m’lady this week, but she’s getting some training that will ultimately help her do her job even better. I’ve got some new music cooking up myself, and with some new mastering software I’ll be getting these tunes ready to share with all of you. Look for that very soon.

All right, get back at it.

Oneohtrix Point Never : Songs Darkly Lit

oneohtrix_opn_a_9013c-copyYou know the old saying, “If you look long enough, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for”? Well that’s not really an old saying. In fact I just made it up right here. It’s that sayings debut. Take it. Let it loose out into the world and tell everyone you saw it here first.

What I’m babbling about is something I’ve come to find out in my nearly 41 years on this big blue rock we call home, and that’s when you think you’ve seen and heard all the great stuff something will always appear from out the ether to further blow your mind. For me, I’m always looking for some great new artist to light my fuse, butter my bread, and/or rock my socks off. Just when I think everything is stale and same-y, along comes a band or artist that grabs me by the lapels and shakes me until my retinas are detached. Oneohtrix Point Never is that artist as of late.

So I was familiar with Daniel Lopatin, aka OPN(that’s Oneohtrix Point Never just abbreviated. Why? Because I’m lazy.) I’d heard last year’s R Plus Seven and liked it. There were many references to John Carpenter and “spooky music”. While I did find some of the album “spooky”, I found it harder to hear those Carpenter references. So I jumped back to the album before that, Replica, and was still kind of on the fence. I don’t think I was quite ready for Lopatin’s synth landscapes and analog narration.

Well fast forward to three weeks ago and on a whim I played R Plus Seven again and something clicked. It was dark and eerie as I’d remembered from last year; but there was also a depth to the album I hadn’t noticed before. I immediately jumped back to Replica and was floored once again. I think a lot of my newfound love for Oneohtrix Point Never stemmed from my recent analog synth binging with the likes of Jakob Skott, Bernard Szajner, Rudiger Lorenz, and Sinoia Caves(aka Jeremy Schmidt.) These artists completely opened my mind to what can be done with a stack of Moogs, Juno Synths, and TR-808s. Lopatin’s most recent albums resemble haunted houses created with vacuum tubes and square waves. Buzzing swaths of tension and dread. Ghosts swoon amidst the static and synthesizer stabs. Replica and R Plus Seven show a drastic shift in Lopatin’s musical communication. Once I jumped back to his first few self-released albums he had definitely begun in a more ambient, textural landscape.

Betrayed In The Octagon is definitely more Tangerine Dream than John Carpenter. It’s more soundscapes and set adrift than haunted and tense. Drawn and Quartered, Russian Mind, and The Fall Into Time all keep that vibe going as well. 2010s Returnal shows a shift in composition, though. It feels more in-your-face, harsher, and a definite shift to what he did on Replica and R Plus Seven. 

I am quite fond of both musical sides of Daniel Lopatin. Being a huge fan of Tangerine Dream I’m drawn to his earlier work. I find myself putting on the earlier albums quite a bit lately. They are conducive to a glass of stout and deep reflection on the couch. “Behind The Band” and “Parallel Minds” on Betrayed In The Octagon are two favorites, while “Woe Is The Transgression I” is an epic opener that brings to mind Vangelis’ work in Blade Runner. Vangelis does pop up now and again on the earlier albums as an artist that comes to mind in sound. But Lopatin dabbles in musical corners more darkly lit. His musical world is filled with many shady alleys and coarser, blacker skies.

Another thing that impressed me is that his earlier stuff was all self-released. A guy toiling in an apartment making these synth collages for the love of the music. It reminded me of another synth loner, Rudiger Lorenz. His masterpiece Invisible Voices was recently reissued thanks to Mexican Summer and Kemado Records(Kemado has been reissuing Lopatin’s earlier albums as well.) Rudiger was a German pharmacist by day and by night he made these albums filled with synth collages in his home studio. I think it’s great he’s finally getting some recognition for his great work.

I’ve gone on long enough. If any of these words I said above this line meant anything to you, then give Oneohtrix Point Never a listen. For those fans of Tangerine Dream, Carpenter scores, and those other cats I mentioned.