Music For Writers: Oneohtrix Point Never

oneohtrix-point-never-riftsAmbient artist Daniel Lopatin was unknown to me, at least until Pitchfork magazine listed his collection Riftsas one of the greatest ambient albums of all time.

Now he has become a bona fide staple.

Weighing in at a robust thirty-three tracks, highlighted by exciting, sweeping synths and clever loops, Lopatin’s early work as Oneohtrix Point Never verifies his presence as perhaps the pioneering influence in tech heavy ambient. The “voice” on this collection isn’t a replicant of nature. It isn’t human. It isn’t space, nor is it cinema. Instead, these are the busy voices of data transfers, and machines interconnected, a dark and synergistic web of automation yearning not to be free; oddly, to succumb and conform. Oneohtrix Point Never songs are filled with rippling keyboard arpeggios and bittersweet melodies that doggedly adhere to what feels like a graph paper like structure.

The three disc, deluxe version of Rifts collects a trio of LPs for the first time (they exist separately, but are hard to find and very expensive). Disc One, “Betrayed In The Octagon” is the earliest work; “Zones Without People” is the second, brilliant middle album in the chronology; then “Russian Mind” which was the last before Oneohtrix Point Never broke commercially.

The thirty-three tracks on the 2012 reissue total more than three hours. Translation. It is among the most massive single artist ambient collections available, but at the same time as it is weighty, it reveals a coherent arc. A writer setting adrift on this vast trove of music will likely find three hours too much to negotiate, but bite sized, five to ten song chunks of thematically continuous ambience are easy to carve out. I have cordoned off 35-40 minutes segments of Zones, the more new age and psychedelic influenced album that I like to use while writing speculative and science-fiction (“Format & Journey North” is a great launch) the same as on Russian Mind which is more spacious (“Time Decanted” and “Memory Vague” bookend a spectacular sequence). For writers taking Rifts into their mood creating tool box, it’s important to know, this intimidating work can be sectioned off to whatever it needs to be.

The 2012 reissue of Rifts makes Oneohtrix Point Never far more accessible than ever before. I got my CD copy at the Multnomah County library, and it’s likely available at yours for check out.

If you have trouble locating a copy to check out though, it’s available for purchase at Lopatin’s site and can be streamed in pieces at YouTube as well as Bandcamp.

Have you given Rifts by Oneohtrix Point Never a chance? If so, what do you think? Do you have a favorite album to listen to while writing? Leave me a comment and I’ll review it.