When he made his Portuguese debut on the stage of ZDB’s Aquarium on the eve of April 25th Revolution’s anniversary, in 2010, Daniel Lopatin wasn’t exactly a name we would have thought would be credited at the Super Bowl half-time show. Granted, he was already a widely acclaimed name, with the compilation Rifts at No Fun fittingly tidying up some of the booty of CDRs, cassettes and limited edition LPs from previous years and he was about to make his eMego debut with Returnal, but it was for all intents and purposes a half inconceivable idea. But here we are in 2023, survived(?) a pandemic, increasingly confused by differentiations between high and low culture and it’s now two years since Lopatin was music director for The Weeknd’s performance at what is one of the televised highlights of the World; a direct sequel to his production work for After Hours and anticipating Dawn FM. Who knew?
Oneohtrix Point Never now returns to Portugal in the capacity of Oneohtrix Point Never, after distant stints at the Teatro Maria Matos and Out.fest, in the same capacity as ZDB but in a venue with a different scope. Just enough to host one of the most influential and challenging musicians of this century. From his early days bent over analogue keyboards and a whole armada of pedals, moving through the slums of a North American underground scene that eschewed noise and drone to embrace new age and kösmiche, until he became a leading figure of what David Keenan coined Hypnagogic Pop – alongside names like James Ferraro, Spencer Clark or Emeralds – it was a fertile interval in edits, with Lopatin laminating a music founded on synthesizer cascades as indebted to 1970s German cosmonauts and the more impressionistic Vangelis as it was to the soundtracks of John Carpenter and the pomp of some 80s art pop. But very much his own.
From this period, which culminated in 2009 with the aforementioned Rifts, Lopatin gathers a vast field of action that would mark future steps. Under the pseudonym Chuck Person, he releases the now classic Eccojams Vol. 1, where the re-appropriation of recognizable pop moments is due to the chopped & screwed visions of DJ Screw, but is filtered by a fully virtual reality that also marks this Youtube classic ‘Nobody Here’. Through eMego he releases Returnal, where the synthetic heat of the Juno 60 gives way to the purely digital sound of the Yamaha DX7 and sampling tactics as disruptive as they are welcoming, in a manoeuvre that would be sublimated in the brilliant 2011 Replica. Two years later he moved to the giant Warp, where he has remained ever since and where he has released such landmark albums as R Plus Seven or Age Of.
At the same time, he has projected incarnations such as Skyramps with Mark McGuire from Emeralds or Infinity Window with Taylor Richardson from Sunburned Hand of the Man and collaborated with luminaries such as Tim Hecker, Anohni, David Byrne or FKA Twigs, in a compulsive activity whose wide range always bears his watermark and would culminate with his alliance with The Weeknd. A moment of his definitive arrival in pop, he also took on the role of soundtrack composer, where his connection to the Safdie brothers stands out, for whom he composed the atmospheric tracks for Uncut Gems and Good Times – which won the award for best BSO at the Cannes Festival. Basically, it has become unthinkable to map the advances in music over the last two decades without mapping Lopatin’s work. A concert for a full house, for sure. BS