LAURIE CHEN reviews the Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent London gig.
Daniel Lopatin is full of surprises. The man who produces mind-bending, avant-garde electronica (under the moniker Oneohtrix Point) never has succeeded in bringing a packed audience under the weathered arches of Heaven. For one night only, the familiar sticky floors of the gay nightclub have been transformed into an unrecognisable high church of doom, with Lopatin at the helm, like some kind of Satanic overlord.
This sense of melodrama might have been exactly what Lopatin was aiming for. His kaleidoscopic palette of synths echoed and reverberated through the cavernous surroundings of the club, enveloping us in wave upon successive wave of sound. It was the soundtrack to your psychedelic nightmares, but in the best possible way. Lopatin effortlessly segued songs from his previous release R Plus 7 and his latest offering, Garden of Delete, with consummate skill, providing a set that was relatively accessible for those unfamiliar with his eclectic back catalogue.
Nonetheless, hearing the familiar openings of his more well-known songs through the murky haze was like falling into the embrace of an old friend. Particularly memorable were ‘Ezra’, ‘I Bite Through It’, ‘Mutant Standard’ with its relentlessly euphoric, pounding arpeggios, and ‘Sticky Drama’, the lead single from Garden of Delete. The latter arrived in a triumphant flourish before descending into a sonic whirlwind of fragmented, juddering vocoder samples and frantic synths –but not before the crowd managed to get some intense head-banging in.
In fact, Lopatin experimented with the vocoder throughout the gig. At various points, he impassively addressed the audience in a Dalek-like drawl, creating moments of bizarre humour which were a welcome contrast to the grandiose intensity of his set. His visuals were also impressive, ranging from uncanny Sims-esque rooms to post-apocalyptic wastelands, and even a rolling feed of nonsensical, stream-of-consciousness maxims at one point. These created a postmodern collage of Lopatin’s variously warped, abstract influences; both music and art were transformed into something inspiring and deeply unsettling.
And this was perhaps the whole point of tonight’s performance – to prove that even disturbing, difficult music can produce moments of truly breathtaking awe. The maverick Lopatin rarely does things by halves. Tonight he took electronic music to its very limits and back again. As the gig came to a close, we were left in a state of numb shock, our eyeballs still vibrating in their sockets. There were no more words to be said.
Oneohtrix Point Never played Heaven on 24 Feb 2016.