Thursday, July 07, 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never interview

As Oneohtrix Point Never, Daniel Lopatin has staked out a previously uninhabited/ inhospitable ground between bracing electronic noise and the warm washes of New Age. With albums like Rifts and Returnal, OPN was one of the acts that drew what it needed from the New Age aesthetic while leaving the rest behind, and sure enough, Dan waxed eloquently on the subject (though he later apologized for being too intellectual).

Can you tell me how you first got into New Age music or what got you to see beyond the stigma of such sounds?

A lot of new age is slightly more watered down kosmische musik made with very specific purposes in mind, like I remember certain Michael Hedges records came with instructions. Although I doubt they'd ever admit it, some of it was made by otherwise legitimized kosmische musik legends like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. The only difference is there's no discreet new age rhetoric, although Vangelis was very much into glorifying epic terrestrial landscapes and that is very new age in its own way.

I always enjoyed the idea that somehow certain striated musical textures (kosmische, krautrock) are considered high brow and how smoothened (new age) textures signal something more pop. For a while I was into seeing how you could take something smooth and make it more striated via synthesizers and samplers and loopers. Because I mostly listen for texture, new age was is a huge resource for all kinds of non rhythmic texture that can act as a sort of jumping off point.

Does such music have a mental effect for you when you listen to it?

It does but it's not very relaxing. It often stresses me out in the sense that I think about how strange it is that an artist would feel that relinquishing their role as composer and letting music just freely float and just be would ever be a good thing. There's a superficial dissolution of the ego in both new age music and western mysticism that I find amusing. It's also very creepy in a sexual sense. Deuter, Andreas Vollenweider and even 80s Vangelis to a certain extent make perverted sounding new age music. They introduce this smooth jazz sexiness that is like some weird form of headphone molestation. It's uncomfortable. 

It's contested whether or not my favorite new age records are actually more pure "ambient" records but often I can't really tell the difference other than the wrapping. But I love Steve Roach - Structures From Silence. For me it's on par with Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. II in terms of emotionality. A more obvious and actual new age record that I love and don't find sexually creepy is Iasos - Elixir, whose title says it all.

Do any of the other aspects of New Age music (be it vegetarian lifestyle, yoga, crystals, etc.) resonate for you at all?

Not at all -- I'm pretty pedestrian in terms of my lifestyle choices. I think people love the sounds because they heighten or color reality in an interesting way that music on FM radio or MTV2 or whatever doesn't really do. At least not at the moment.