Oneohtrix Point Never Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver BC, February 3
Published Feb 04, 2014Brooklyn-based experimental musician Daniel Lopatin puts no bio on his website, label pages, or any social media platform, choosing instead to let his music speak for itself and let listeners come to their own conclusions. Indeed, music geeks are only too pleased to overanalyse his plunderphonic Kosmische-come-vapourwave aesthetic, reading his predilection for '70s B-movie drones, '80s synth excess and sample collages presented in a VHS fuzz as some kind of spiritual release or intensely designed intellectual exercise.
Unfortunately, judging from his performance this evening, Oneohtrix Point Never's live set is a whole lot of sizzle and no steak. Occasionally, Lopatin would work his way into a restrained nod when his music inferred a beat, but, for the most part, he looked like he was checking his email, and didn't like what he read.
Some interesting moments did creep through the distanced façade, though. Lopatin played little from his most recent album, R Plus Seven, straight through, electing instead to live mix the raw audio and midi files into new contexts. He showcased his particular sound palette, taking what would be throwaway synth patches from Plaid and Raoul Sinier, industrial field recordings, church organ, bass drones and canned choir voices and recombining them into jagged, sprawling new age soundscapes. From this, moments of aural ecstasy emerged.
His partner in crime, video artist Nate Boyce, provided suitably dark, flickering visual stimulation. There was one awkward moment when his program crashed, revealing a Mac desktop for a minute or so before it clicked back online, allowing him to continue his ever-morphing presentation of ladders in concrete bunkers, amorphous metallic blobs, planetary terrain, unfamiliar corporate logos and other surreal CGI renderings. Any still frame from his visuals could have been an excellent album cover.
Unfortunately, it would have taken some truly spectacular visuals to make this show worth the money. Lopatin's apparent misery translated into his performance, with some overwhelming layering and chunky transitions testing the sound system throughout. This was culminated by an abrupt fade-out on the last track, clocking in just shy of an hour of play, following which the boys bolted offstage, never to return. Perhaps he wasn't feeling well, but the way Lopatin performed tonight, it felt like he couldn't wait to get off the stage, which made the music seem like an inconvenience, rather than a pleasure.