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Sara Foss's Thinking It Through
by Sara Foss

Thinking It Through

A Daily Gazette life blog
Her column and blog rolled into one

Listening to Oneohtrix Point Never

I went to EMPAC last week to see Oneohtrix Point Never, the cutting-edge electronic musician, perform material from his upcoming album, “R Plus Seven.”

Oneohtrix Point Never is the recording name of Daniel Lopatin, who creates sonic landscapes that evoke feelings and moods; his acclaimed 2011 album, “Replica,” is lush, textured and mysterious, with odd little blips and shifts in tone and tempo that grab your attention just when you’re starting to doze off. I’d always thought of “Replica” as mood music — something to put on when I needed to clear my mind and relax after a stressful day.

However, my opinion has changed after seeing Oneohtrix Point Never in concert, because the show was never anything less than riveting — a digital tour-de-force. Lopatin’s performance was accompanied by imagery created by the video artist Nate Boyce, which underscored the cinematic nature of his music. Boyce’s work was interesting — much of it consisted of odd, furniture-like shapes transforming into other odd shapes — but I sometimes wanted to shut my eyes and just let the music wash over me.

The songs off “R Plus Seven” would work well as a soundtrack to a film, but I’d rather come up with my own images while listening than have someone else’s images imposed on me. For me, the most intriguing part of the show occurred when a series of strange names were repeatedly flashed on the screen: Tuftonboro, Sunapee, Conway, Ossipee. After a few moments I realized that these are all small towns in my home state of New Hampshire, specifically the lakes region and White Mountains. This made me curious about whether Lopatin or Boyce have any ties to the Granite State, but I didn’t immediately uncover any.

The show lasted for more than an hour, but I could have listened to more. The music was by turns exciting, soothing, droning and unpredictable, and when it was over I felt completely calm and clear-headed. I can’t think of too many musicians who make me feel that way, which suggests that a Oneohtrix Point Never concert is a pretty unique experience. I know I won’t forget it anytime soon.

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