Jan 06, 2022
By Joey Arnone
The musical work of Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) has always inextricably existed in a visual realm. Having a hand in the birth of the electronic subgenre of vaporwave, Lopatin’s music has taken familiar and nostalgic visual and sonic cues from the past, primarily through vintage commercials or radio spots (his own pseudonym is a riff on Magic 106.7, a radio station from his hometown of Boston). His 2009 visual album, Memory Vague—a set of melancholy and soporific synth tunes set to ’80s psychedelic animated art, TV shows, and footage that depicts an aesthetically pleasing consumerist America—best illustrates his artistic modus operandi. The visual medium has always provided a symbiosis to his musical compositions, which combine to portray an enigmatically warped and haunted past stuck in limbo.
It’s rather fitting, then, that his latest album, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never, should receive a re-release that highlights the visual art that has accompanied his music since his signing to Warp in 2013. It’s clear that Lopatin still has the same fascination with the past and its iconography, which still lurks in our collective mainstream consciousness to this day (think of how many ’80s themed shows, movies, and music that have been released within the past five years alone), but the videos featured on the Blu-ray edition of Magic Oneohtrix Point Never also highlight Lopatin’s fascination with the future.
The videos reveal a fragmented abstraction of reality that is both hyperreal and hyperfake, such as the video for “Problem Areas” from 2013’s R Plus Seven, in which the animation featured is so uncannily real it almost seems as if the viewer is staring into an altered reality. As always, Lopatin manages to transcend the corporeal by breaking away from any specific time period and creating an anachronistic visual aura that melds the past, present, and future, whether that be through combining pornography with sci-fi imagery in the video for “Still Life” or creating a surrealist ’80s sitcom with nods to present technology in “Lost But Never Alone” (directed by the Safdie Brothers, whose films Good Time and Uncut Gems were scored by Lopatin).
The new release of Magic Oneohtrix Point Never not only features an updated version of the original album, which includes additional remixes and alternate versions of songs presented in immersive Dolby Atmos audio, but also showcases Lopatin’s evolution as a musical and visual artist. After over a decade of making music, it’s good to see him still using his art as a means of reaching into the past to break on through to the future. (www.pointnever.com)
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