Two new albums I’m looking forward to hearing. The first is Magic Oneohtrix Point Never from OPN.
After scoring one of the most critically acclaimed film scores of recent history Uncut Gems in 2019, artist and producer Daniel Lopatin is back with his new album Magic Oneohtrix Point Never.
Named as a reference to a misheard play on words of Boston’s Magic 106, it is a nostalgic reference to radio landscapes. Loosely structured on radio’s journey from day into night, it is interspersed with digital hallucinations that appear as ghosts between the dials. Collaging together archival recordings of various American FM station’s “format flips”, in which detourned DJ sign-offs collide with advertisements and self-help mantras to form darkly humorous reflections on American music culture.
The album’s opening ‘DRIVE TIME SUITE’ is Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’s appeal in microcosm. Curtain-raising vignette ‘Cross Talk I’ crams hypnagogic infomercial sounds and uncanny, Holly Herndon-esque vocal manipulations into a mere twenty-two seconds, its sharp aural left-turns prefiguring the FM radio-style shifts which periodically break up Magic Oneohtrix Point Never. ‘Auto & Allo’ subsequently expands this aesthetic, its halcyon electronics and twisted echoes of baroque-pop landing somewhere between Sophie and Actress. The balladic elements which lurk in ‘Auto & Allo’ are brought out further still on the following number ‘Long Road Home’, a track where Lopatin’s robotified vocals are accompanied by Caroline Polachek and set against a hyperreal chamber-pop instrumental.
Magic Oneohtrix Point Never is another thrilling, boundary-pushing record of electronic compositions from this multi-faceted artist. It amalgamates his rich history of production work, his chamber-pop songwriting of his previous albums and his earlier explorations of plunderphonics, into a record that is as much of a reference to the artist’s past, as Lopatin dialling inwards into his sonic world of 0PN, creating a parallel universe for the listener to exist in, during these tumultuous times.
The second album released this November is a remastered re-release of Coil’s Musick To Play In The Dark, originally released some 21 years ago.
Convening at Balance and Christopherson’s vast Victorian house / studio in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, they began a series of ambitious sessions aided by inner circle associates Thighpaulsandra and Drew McDowall. Although the creative process was admittedly “iterative” and “a bit of a drug blur,” the results are astoundingly inventive and well realized, winding through shades of divination dirge, wormhole kosmische, noir lounge, ominous humor, and black mass downtempo, guided by Balance’s cryptic lunar muse, which he announces on the opening track: “This is moon musick / in the light of the moon.”
What’s most remarkable about the album 20 years after its release is how brazen, insular, and unpredictable it still feels. The songs follow an allusive, altered state logic all their own, warping from microscopic ripples of glitch and breath to widescreen warlock psychedelia and back again, as much hyper-sensory as inter-dimensional. Even within a catalog as eclectic as Coil’s, Musick is a mystifying collection, oneiric evocations of desire, decadence, dinner jazz, and dietary advice, far beyond the pale of whatever gothic industrial ambiguity birthed such a journey.
The record closes with a slow, starlit shuffle, bathed in seething sweeps of spectral texture and high cathedral keys, like approaching the altar of some arcane temple. As the trance thickens Balance’s voice rises, processed into an increasingly eerie, gaseous haze, but he resists these unseen forces, intent on delivering a final sermon: “Through hissy mists of history / the dreamer is still dreaming / the dreamer is still dreaming.”