The first I really let Oneohtrix Point Never into my brain was after I’d discovered anxiety. Panic had been just under the surface for years with me, but it finally came to a head about 4 years ago. This was also around the same time I bought R Plus Seven. I was pulled into its ghostly world of samples, aged synths, and alien-esque melodies. Daniel Lopatin was conducting a synthetic orchestra of detached melancholy and radiating circuits. I’d never heard anything like what he was doing. I’d dabbled in electronic music up to this point, but other than Boards Of Canada, nothing had ever really grabbed me quite like OPN.
I’d soon amassed quite a bit of his work. Most of it, actually. The earlier records were swaths of ambient tones and ethereal sounds. The ghostly noise has been there since the beginning, but on his first album Betrayed In The Octagon, things were especially new age-meets-psychedelia. Each successive record got more experimental, and outward. Where earlier records were like a shy kid that would occasionally make a weird face or blurt out a strange word, the newer albums were becoming more like the shy kid growing into himself. The records had the feeling of being comfortable in their own skin, regardless of what color that skin was or what planet the kid was from.
How does this work into panic and anxiety? For me, the music of OPN felt like this warm cocoon I could crawl into and calm myself. Even the oddities found on Replica and Returnal were a welcome reprise from the made up doom that would occasionally drop over my head and suffocate me with imagined terror. I’d held onto so much over the years and “toughed it out” when things got heavy that I never stopped to let that existential fear wash over me and deal with it. The fear had decided it was ready to deal with me, whether I was ready for it or not. The music of Daniel Lopatin sounded like the white and grey noise in my brain. Sitting in it there was a feeling of calming. It was like suffocating out the fire before it became all-consuming in my head. There was no great trauma that this sudden bout of anxiety came from. It was more like years of worry building up and up and up until it needed to be released into the world. My world. But listening to Lopatin’s soundscapes was a “take five” kind of moment. I could sit back and look at what was happening to my brain and see the fear and panic wasn’t anything but that. I was existentially “walking it off”.
Oneohtrix Point Never helped me gather my senses.
Daniel Lopatin and Oneohtrix Point Never have a new album coming out June 1st. It’s called Age Of and I’m very excited for it. I might be more excited for this album than any other this year. OPN not only speaks my language, but reinterprets it in a way that makes things much more understandable. As his music becomes even more alien and forward-thinking, I seem to grasp to it even tighter. It becomes more transcendent. That’s how music should be.
If it’s working, that’s how art should be.