Magic Oneohtrix Point Never

Magic Oneohtrix Point Never

The idea for Daniel Lopatin’s ninth Oneohtrix Point Never LP came as he began revisiting old radio mixtapes he’d made as a teenager just outside of Boston. “Unlike a mixtape that you make for somebody else, they're non-sequential,” he tells Apple Music. “You’re reacting to something that you may have not even heard before, that you're just titillated by for the first few seconds. It’s like a map of your unconscious in a way.” Meant to simulate the experience of listening to FM radio for an entire day, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never—a nod to Boston soft rock station Magic 106, and the name to which Lopatin’s 2007 debut Betrayed in the Octagon was originally attributed—had to have “an eclecticism” that made you feel like you were spinning the dial. So in addition to collages of hallucinogenic DJ chatter, there are also mutant pop ballads (“No Nightmares,” which features friend and co-executive producer The Weeknd), warped alt-rock anthems (“I Don’t Love Me Anymore”), New Age satires (“The Whether Channel”), and sculptures wrought from sound that most people would dismiss as garbage or background noise. All of it speaks to a career defined by liquid sensibilities and an open mind. “I wanted to make a cohesive, punchy, 50-minute record that was very personal, but pulled from FM palettes that I was personally interested in,” Lopatin says. “I think it works really well as a metaphor for how I've changed. The things that I try to understand about my own life and being an avid musical listener and how much that's influenced me as a musician is kind of apparent on this record. That metaphor of transformation is something that I came to by thinking about the radio.” Here, Lopatin walks us through the day, from sunup to midnight. Cross Talk I “You’re in alarm clock territory. You’re waking up kind of inside the fucking radio, not listening to it. I really want the setting of the album to be almost within a kind of psychic environment—Magic Oneohtrix Point Never as a radio station. So you’re waking up. Time to get on with the day.” Auto & Allo “It's really a track of two parts. The first half is really abstract, and in the second half it comes together. I called it 'Auto & Allo,' which means self and other. So it’s like you're orienting and you're moving towards something. The album is becoming, earning its subjectivity out of this haze.” Long Road Home “I imagined it as the beginning of the album’s journey. It's setting the thesis of the whole record up, which is sort of embracing transformation, even if it's kind of disturbing and the future is vast and unfortunately filled with question marks. But that's it. That's the game. That's where we are. That's who we are. And so, how to live alongside your incompleteness, instead of fight against it or to think that you can overcome it. There's no home you come to. There's just this kind of road, and the road is the thing. That's what that song is for me.” Cross Talk II “You're in the Midday Suite. The collaged-together narrative there is the DJ saying, ‘Somehow our childhood fantasies don't relate to our adult realities.’ And from there, the record gets a little bit more dense. I like to think of midday as active and energetic. There's a lot of optimism, weirdly.” I Don’t Love Me Anymore “Basically it’s Frankensteined together—partially a bratty pop-punk song, partially motorik, like psych rock that's drum-machine-driven. There's a lot of weird over-sampled guitars on it, like the kinds that you might hear in a Sega Genesis video game.” Bow Ecco “A lot of the more ambient moments on the record are references to weather. The liminal space of a weather report is always, I've found, really calming, but it’s scary because you're essentially just somebody sitting there talking about unpredictable dynamic systems and trying to figure them out and conquer them. A bow echo is a weather pattern that's shaped like an archer's bow, this thing that could be like a tornado. This song is calm and there’s a lot of repetition. Then I'm trying to characterize a moment of weather where it flares up like a cyclone, a music-as-sculpture moment where I try to characterize this thing that was like something you'd see on a Weather Channel broadcast.” The Whether Channel “It's like ‘Bow Ecco’ is the actual weather outside, happening somewhere in the lower atmosphere. And ‘Whether Channel’ is like a station, a place where something's commenting on it, dealing with it, or trying to track it. And so it flows out of that. [Rapper] Nolan [berollin] did that part off the cuff, and it's really interesting because he's talking almost in this pseudo-motivational-speaker way, which I thought was really funny. That fit so perfectly and wonderfully into this whole New Age thing that I'm interested in anyway. I was like, ‘Oh. Let's do this kind of Law of Attraction satire where, by the end of his verse, his voice is totally transformed into this super-saturated bit-crushed thing and it sounds like weird baby voices are being pulled apart from each other.” No Nightmares “It kind of has this 10cc/Godley & Creme/‘Take My Breath Away’ kind of vibe to it that could be like a late-night thing because it's slow. But I felt that it was so sweet and kind of pretty. It also has a kind of blue-sky quality to it even if it's kind of slow and romantic. It’s as poppy as the record gets. I mean, this is not a pop record. It references popular music a lot, but it's not sequenced or created to be a series of singles in that way. It's very much a record that is meant to be listened to almost like how you watch a film, so this really needed to be there in a way for me. It just made sense as the moment on the record—if there is one—that’s going to have this big, brash FM radio moment, right there in the middle.” Cross Talk III “It’s sundown now, the sun is setting. This one is pretty lighthearted. I think it was a commercial for a candy bar and I just did a kind of Negativland-style collage where I made the woman in the advertisement talk about styles of music—about background music and elevator music—as if it was something she was tasting.” Tales From the Trash Stratum “The trash stratum is a reference to [author] Philip K. Dick. Here’s the quote: ‘Elements of the divine trash stratum,’ he says. ‘The clue lies there. Symbols of the divine show up in our world initially at the trash stratum.’ It’s a very spiritual way of thinking about trash: If everything, if all material, is kind of equally alive in a sense, because we're here to witness it and observe it, then everything is kind of special. Trash is a discarded thing, but for a lot of artists—me included—there's always been an interest in the abject or in the trash and the discarded stuff. That’s been such a big part of my music and my philosophy in thinking about musical tastes—like trashy tastes or dustbin stuff or throwaway New Age records that really meant a lot to me.” Answering Machine “Really, the record to me is about listening—and all these sort of overlapping modes of listening. We have voicemails now, but I remember the eeriness of an answering machine, and having to come home and press a button. There's this weird beep and you could hear the sort of mechanism itself, the thing—there’s a tape in it and it looks all weird. I wanted to make an interlude that had an homage to this other thing that I would imagine I'd be listening to while I was listening to the radio. It's as simple as that.” Imago “In nature, an imago is the fully realized final stage of an insect when it becomes its final form—so a butterfly when it's fully winged. I wrote the piece first and then named it that because it seemed to have that kind of narrative to it—it sounds like pieces in between that are almost barely there, like something's happening. Beautiful music was a style of music on the radio that was essentially background music, and to me this sounded like a really doomed piece of beautiful music that you'd never hear. As the song progresses, it both decays and becomes more itself at the same time. By the time the strings come in and there's this really crazy kind of symphonic string arrangement that hugs the decaying loop, it occurred to me that that was kind of like an imago, a butterfly abandoning its exoskeleton and becoming this new thing.” Cross Talk IV / Radio Lonelys “The beginning of the overnight, and that’s when things get a little darker, seedier, and, in a way, more fun and cynical. Things open up. To me, the overnight programming on freeform radio was either generically stuck in there and wasn't actually what the station was doing all the rest of the time, or it was this inverse—a more freeform chunk where it was more libidinous and weird. I mean, it's overnight, so who the fuck is up listening?” Lost But Never Alone “It's like ‘Lost But Never Alone’ and ‘No Nightmares’ are two sides of the same coin. I just love a triumphant power ballad, and I love Def Leppard. To me, this is like a Def Leppard song but it's hybridized with other things that are a little bit more like 1980s synth-pop but on the gothier side of it, so like Depeche Mode’s Violator and stuff like that. That was always alchemically interesting to me, because you were either hair metal or you were goth—but if you were both, you were schizophrenic, basically.” Shifting “Arca and I really connect on this idea that we're both interested in transformation as a powerful formal device in music. Because you can do stuff with sound design and production in a way that can really encapsulate all these other ways of thinking about transformation, whether it's bodily transformation or evolving your ideas or devolving your ideas. The whole thing is sort of reinforcing that theme of liquid ideas as liquid sounds, and I really wanted Arca to be on the record somewhere because I think she's doing it and has been doing that so well for so long. I always felt such a kinship with her that way.” Wave Idea “Much like ‘Shifting’—which I think of as a weird spooky theremin, kind of an Ed Wood vibe but turned into something really futuristic—‘Wave Idea’ is like, what if you could animate this sort of stuff between the dials and sculpt it into something that had a body, that had its own sort of psychic importance and its own physical kind of manifestation? So it's like a creature, my hallucination, how I sculpt something that becomes much more interesting than just noise or trash.” Nothing’s Special “There's a kind of thesis in it. It was a really rough fucking year and it's been hard for everybody. Something that's always given me a lot of solace when I'm in a funk is that I notice that I've become disenchanted. The thing that can kind of re-enchant me very quickly when I get there is to remember that—like the Philip K. Dick quote said—everything is kind of divine, and everything is interesting, including the stuff between the dials. The noise. I wanted to end the album on a high note, so it crescendos towards the lyric that says no matter how bleak things get, I'm still fundamentally fascinated that I can find such enchantment in such random, small things.”

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