Oneohtrix Point Never

November 6, 2009

Perhaps this is an appropriate subject for a first post. The actual ideas behind Oneohtrix Point Never’s music are fully disclosed in this month’s issue of The Wire, and I’d have never have guessed them. Hiphop, science fiction mythology, they’re all in the mix.

But that’s not why it’s important to write about this music. The reason to do so is to unlock the motivation to listen, the subjective ties that bind me to it. There’s an infinite matrix of generic connections on can make for music, any music – indeed the generic connections the guy behind the music points out were a complete surprise…. yet more connections elsewhere! Away from the reason I listen to it. But that is not what this project is about. This project is to drill down to the emotional essence of what the music does, for me at least. A kind of phenomenological reduction of the music. Why, why, why, listen to this music? Along the way I hope to consider why these motivations are, especially these days, so difficult to uncover, so obscure. But that’s what makes it worthwhile, I hope.

The resolution to explore music writing in this way happened a few months ago, perhaps I’ll discuss that in more detail later.

Oneohtrix Point Never’s Rifts. The idea of the synthesizer is still, for some reason, aligned with either communication or transportation – communication or connection, you might say. To give two tangential examples, the guy from the Human League (not Phil Oakey) had a formative decision to buy a car or a synth; Kraftwerk have discussed the same  dilemma, with respect to a Volkswagen in their case, naturally. Something about the static nature of the instrument points it towards these formulations. A synth is always the big, black box with the fragile, shoddy keyboard, the latter always the first thing to fail. You approach the synth from one direction, the front; you input data, you get data output. The precise lack of intimacy is the thrill. You are connecting to an other music, or traveling to other zones.

Oneohtrix Point Never fetishise this kind of technological juncture, this negotiated interface with the synthesizer, glory in it, even. The state which Oneohtrix Point Never find themselves in is, though, happily lost. Their music never loses the thrill of these alien textures, falling in love with it anew each time. You can feel that in the slow arcs of movement, the way it seems to be falling. They glide in gentle though always mysterious orbits, pulled this way and that, happily so. The synthesizer itself knows where it wants to go. It’s a kind of act of faith, the ultimate form of love.

Hence its strong emotional appeal, once I turn it on, I have to keep it on, you can’t turn it off.

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