Oneohtrix Point Never The Hoxton, Toronto ON, March 11

Oneohtrix Point Never The Hoxton, Toronto ON, March 11
Photo: Geoff Fitzgerald
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Figuring out whether Daniel Lopatin's industrial noise reinvention is just a stylistic evolution or the soundtrack to our looming technological downfall is tricky. Oneohtrix Point Never kidnapped The Hoxton's audience with bewildering ease last night (March 11), drowning eyes in flickering blasts of white light, all while underscoring a disturbing narrative through droning metal-inspired amplifications.
 
Lopatin's work has long rested in a state of equilibrium between celestial reaches and the bluntness of terra firma, but last year's Garden of Delete proved what comes up must come down, clipping the ambient wings of his earlier work and adopting piercing distortion and unpredictable choppiness to create a soundtrack for the crashing tumble to soil. The stretched-out synth vistas and its arpeggio melody interludes, typical of work like Rifts, were brutishly overrun by the audaciousness of a demonic machinist.
 
The transformation has been embedded into his live performances, and following Odonis Odonis' opening set, OPN quickly established a despondent mood. Supported by a headless-bass player, Lopatin's aggressive drum pad tempo on "Mutant Standard" rattled the audience's skeletons while synchronized high beams flashed; it was hardly a trip for the faint of heart. "Sticky Drama" teased with melodic synth before turning into the sludgy hiss, mirroring the record's unpolished decay, and when the inevitable encore was milked, OPN played a tender version of "No Good" that was just as captivating for its alien tone. "Returnal," one of the few tracks not from Garden of Delete, fit really well into the set with its wonky, airy rhythm.
 
The visuals revelled in juxtaposition. The murky dread of OPN coupled uncomfortably with screens displaying 3-D works by long-time collaborator Nate Boyce. Panning examinations of plastic bones referenced a world suddenly outside the compressed space of heavy synth filters, as blinking frozen desktops confirmed to all that might still be oblivious that everything wasn't okay.
 
Although enhancing the show's futuristic effect, the vocoder Lopatin used to communicate with the audience between tracks spoke simultaneously of the performer's distant nature, as it was set to a distorted garble the entire time. There were occasionally moments where the set's distortion and density felt overplayed too, suffocating some of the brilliant sampling detail we come to expect from Lopatin, but on the whole, it was an entrancing performance.