Daniel Lopatin’s musical worlds are labyrinthine to say the least. A Oneohtrix Point Never record is like some vast, crystalline museum where you bask in the beauty of art, ancient objects, and philosophies that you don’t quite understand but they entrance you nonetheless. Lopatin curates walks through his psyche with each successive record; each one becomes clearer yet harder to define.
On 2015s Garden Of Delete, Lopatin took OPN into its most accessible direction yet, attempting an alien melding of both metal and pop music. Of course, coming from Daniel Lopatin accessible is a relative term. There was also a teenage alien blogger name Ezra. No matter how upfront and accessible Daniel Lopatin wants to take his music, there’s always going to be an element of the bizarre or ethereal.
I thank him for that.
After last year’s excellent Good Time S/T, along with Lopatin’s recent MYRIAD multimedia show in Brooklyn, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a couple months ago that OPN had a new record coming out. That record, Age Of, is here and it’s yet another confounding and brilliant album. It is OPNs most accessible and alien work yet.
“Age Of” opens the album with harpsichord. A baroque, melancholy instrument, it actually feels right at home on an OPN album. You get the feeling of being trapped in a bubble, floating in space as time melts in front of you like a Dali painting. Soon enough the melody pitch shifts and sways as if its being pulled apart at the seams. It’s exquisite, gorgeous, and mildly frightening all at once. “Babylon” has Lopatin’s autotuned vocals singing with an almost country sway. This is probably the most pop-centric Oneohtrix has ever sounded. Of course, the song ends abruptly as if the alien overlords pulled the plug.
Regardless of how accessible Lopatin wants to take OPNs sound, he will always carry with him the early sounds of Oneohtrix. Those ambient landscapes of Betrayed In The Octagon, Drawn and Quartered, and Returnal, and thank Christ for that. As much as I love seeing artists I admire progress and evolve, I don’t want the weirdest of them to stop being weird. I live for moments like “Manifold”, “Warning”, and the ghostly “We’ll Take It”. These spots where Lopatin reveals the darkest and most honest recesses of his musical world. And really, there isn’t a more perfect OPN song title than “Last Known Image of a Song”, is there? I can almost see a tattered Polaroid lying on a console in some space station. Nothing showing but light with shards of darkness poking thru. It’s an obliquely exquisite track to end this odyssey. It’s a mix of Eric Dolphy, David Cronenberg, and Philip Glass.
Elsewhere, “Toys 2” is a “proof of concept” for Lopatin’s agent showing how he would score a Pixar film, using this as an imagined score for a sequel to the Robin Williams’ movie Toys. “Black Snow” was the lead single, another pop-leaning track with Lopatin singing, along with backing vocals by Anohni. It’s bizarre video set the stage for what we had in store with Age Of.
This is the most collaborative OPN album to date, with guest musicians like the aforementioned Anohni, along with James Blake helping out on production and mixing. There is a bit more of a sheen here. It’s less busy than previous albums, which gives the songs room to breathe a bit. I think with Daniel Lopatin producing and writing on various projects it gave him a view of what collaboration can be. The results here are telling.
Age Of sees Oneohtrix Point Never ever evolving, but not losing those eccentric qualities and vast musical soundscapes that separated Daniel Lopatin from the rest of the electronic music world. This is a sparse and tight record that encapsulates all the greatness of OPN, while continuing the forward motion Daniel Lopatin began with 2010s Returnal. Age Of is an exquisite oddity that shines bizarre and beautiful.
8.4 out of 10