Published Sep 24, 2013While Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin isn't exactly known for his music's melodiousness, he agrees that his forthcoming full-length, R Plus Seven — due October 1 courtesy of Warp Records — is most definitely the closest he's come in a while to writing what one might call "pop songs."
"In a lot of ways, it is," Lopatin tells Exclaim! "A lot of the time, these compositions started with me sitting down at a keyboard with an organ or piano sound, and just working from the hip, intuitively trying to write music."
Lopatin points out that his more self-led approach meant that his songs often started with melodies or synth phrases, rather than the infomercial samples that formed the basis of his 2011 effort, Replica.
"With that, I amassed an index of edits from these commercials that I liked, and sort of arranged them in a musical way, but they still contained a roadmap for how I could work with them melodically and then I would affix chords or melodies around those things. It kind of generated itself, in a way. I curated the experience, but it was a very different process. Here, [on R Plus Seven,] I was just starting from music and trying to distort it in some way and attach these appendages that are non-musical in nature."
Those "non-musical appendages" are what have always characterized Oneohtrix Point Never records, and the same is true of Lopatin's latest, on which the catchy elements interact directly with noise and dissonance.
"I really wanted that [pop-centric] aspect, where it could function in a harmless way, but then there was this kind of antagonistic undercurrent to it where at any moment, if you zoom in a little bit, there are things there that are meant to kind of disturb you."
Lopatin assert that "if I can interrupt an idea about music that would be thought of as pacifying, then I can start dealing with those cliches in interesting ways. I think what I try to do all the time is instead of just doing a genre exercise of one sort or the other. I try to see what happens, what kind of uncomfortable tensions arise, when you refuse to allow things to be culturally what they are. I like music that is able to self-reflect in that way, as if it's sentient, and it can change its mind or be in a conversation with itself about what it wants to be or where it's expected to go. I find that kind of thing interesting."
But those expecting Lopatin to move any closer towards the more song-based approach of his 2010 collaboration with Joel Ford as Ford & Lopatin, Channel Pressure, will be disappointed. Not only is he uninterested, "I don't necessarily think that I'm that good at it, to be honest."
"There's a certain craft to that that at times I can tap into effectively, but in general, it doesn't seem to feel like something that I'd be into. At the end of the day, you're kind of saying, 'I want to share this with the world because I think I'm doing something worthwhile,' and I think that as I proceed through different experiments and am trying to make worthwhile work, my expectations for myself increase and my sensitivity to my own shortcomings increase. If I know I can't deliver on promises to the outside world, I at least have to deliver on promises I make to myself."