Everyone’s a curator these days. It’s an observation that spurred art critic David Balzer to write Curationism, a late 2014 book that aims to break down the when, why, and how of what Balzer terms the “curationist” moment. Noting the increasing abundance of art curators and, say, sandwich “curators” in contemporary society, Balzer explains that today’s curators seek to “cultivate and organize things in an expression-cum-assurance of value and an attempt to make affiliations with, and to court, various audiences and consumers.”
Curators elevate the things they like as a means of establishing their own agency or identity—a practice that seems necessary as we spend more and more of our time online, interfacing with others under the guise of social media avatars that make us look more or less the same (Twitter’s square profile pics, Facebook’s uniform cover photos, etc.). To combat this homogeneity, we “curate” these frameworks—posting a coherent body of memes, “attending” an enviable slate of events. Sometimes, referring to these online activities, we even label ourselves “curators” in our social media bios.
In the contemporary art world, Balzer says, curationism manifests itself in the proliferation of exhibitions packaged as “experiences”—shows that, due to the primacy of their overarching concept, make the curator, rather than the artists, the star. This explains the celebrity status of curators like the Serpentine Gallery’s Hans Ulrich Obrist and MoMA PS1’s Klaus Biesenbach. The former, known for his interviews with notable artists as well as multi-faceted group exhibitions like 2014’s Extinction Marathon: Visions of the Future, serves as Balzer’s chief subject; the book’s prologue is titled “Who is HUO?” and posits Obrist’s jet-setting, star-making career as the pinnacle of curationism. The latter curator is well-known in New York and elsewhere for his ambitious curatorial concepts, like 2015’s multimedia Björk exhibition at MoMA or 2014’s expansive Rockaway! exhibition, which featured large projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff, plus a group show, all throughout Rockaway Beach.
Is there a Hans Ulrich Obrist or Klaus Biesenbach, then, of music?
Garden of Delete doesn’t actually sound like a record by Nine Inch Nails or KoRn or Rush or whatever other prog, metal, or “hypergrunge” group creeped into Oneohtrix Point Never mastermind Daniel Lopatin’s consciousness while he composed the record. Sure, there are some musical moments—the pummeling outro of “SDFK,” the Atreyu-like breakdown in “Sticky Drama,” the general buzzsaw bombast of “I Bite Through It”—that undeniably refer to the sonic aesthetics of certain ‘90s and early '00s stadium alt-rock bands. But overall, even with its more nü-metallic palette, Garden of Delete still comes across like a work by, well, Oneohtrix Point Never—replete with the project's characteristic array of unconventional sampling, soaring synth phrases, body-jilting arpeggios, and distant aural recollections of various cultural epochs: that is, it's a confounding work per usual about memory (only this time more specifically about adolescence).
The influence of the aforementioned bands, then, manifests itself more in the hormonal environment in which Garden of Delete exists, and the relationship it fosters with its listeners. Indeed, Lopatin mines hazy nuggets of his musical memory to investigate the simultaneously uncomfortable and liberating feelings of agency, puberty, and alienation that go along with being an adolescent music consumer. Like major-label rock bands of previous decades, Lopatin seeks to wholly engage—and importantly, entertain—his fans. Garden of Delete comes equipped with not just an album but videos, MIDI files for home-made cover versions, Twitteraccounts, a website for the fake band Kaoss Edge, an arena-capable live show with strobe lights and fog machines, even a fictional fan/nemesis/Doppelgänger, the grotesque teenage alien Ezra, upon whom real-life devotees can, in a way, map their fandom.
In other words, Garden of Delete gives itself to Lopatin’s fans’ private, perhaps violent obsession: a nostalgia-inducing experience in a time when many listeners have comparatively little personal investment in the artists they listen to. Remember the '90s? It’s honestly not that hard—and somewhat refreshing—to imagine a young person in 2015 sitting in a bedroom, Garden of Delete on the stereo, OPN poster on the wall, OPN shirt (and hat) clutching their body tight, thinking about uploading a bedroom OPN cover to YouTube, saving up money for the OPN concert next month. Curious about the evocative Garden of Delete experience, we spoke to Daniel Lopatin about the memories and ideas that made it all happen.
Garden of Delete is out November 13 on Warp. The interview begins after the jump. Of note: unpublished segments will be included in AdHoc Issue 10, out in December.
The abstruse marketing campaign for Oneohtrix Point Never's upcoming Garden of Delete continues with another short teaser video. This one, "g.o.d. gun," features footage of a boy in a cool pajama shirt coloring in a drawing of a gun. As the camera zooms in to the boy, jagged and ominous theme music begins to play, and then "GARDEN OF DELETE" is spelled out on screen in an electrified blue scrawl. The imagery at play, as with 0PN's website and letter to his fans, is dark, crude, somewhat melancholic, and unclear in its implications. The only thing that's for certain:
Dan Lopatin's next record as Oneohtrix Point Never and first for Warp, R Plus Seven, is fast approaching. "Zebra" is the latest taste from the record, following the interactive preview on pointnever.com and mind-melter "Problem Areas." The expansive structure of "Zebra" points at newer directions in the first half, extrapolating the rhythmic sampling style that defined his previous LP, Replica, and reinterpreting it with a sharper bounce. The jagged counterpoint of bright-lit, blink-speed editing grows to a disorienting climax before fading into a more ominous back-end haunted by Returnal's sense of doom without the harsher explosions of noise that would poke their head unexpectedly around that record. Accompanying the track is a web piece by Jacob Ciocci of Paper Rad and Extreme Animals, who recently receieved a Rhizome/Tumblr Internet Art grant for his Extreme Animals collaboration project the "Realm Recognize Realm Tour". You can view his piece on pointnever.com.
It makes sense that The Bling Ring-- a movie centered around the crass behavior of spoiled, 21st century teenagers-- would be soundtracked to songs by the likes of Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, and Deadmau5. But this is a Sofia Coppola film, featuring more refined tracks which set it apart from gaudier depictions of youth culture like Spring Breakers. Daniel Lopatin, of Oneohtrix Point Never, and Brian Reitzell-- the former drummer of Red Kross-- scored the film. "The Bling Ring Suite" is one of the pair's original creations, and it is nearly six minutes of wandering, semi-ambient noise that works well with Coppola's glamorous portrayal of burglaries and celebrity worship.
No embeds allowed on this track, so click here to listen. The Bling Ring is out now in selected theaters. Warp Records will release Oneohtrix Point Never's R Plus Seven on September 30.
Dan Lopatin impresses once again with a new track off his Warp debut, R Plus Seven. "Problem Areas" is the first track to drop from the release, and it doesn't come alone-- those who mosey on to pointnever.com will find that artist Takeshi Murata created a piece to accompany the song. The visual accompaniment's simulated, surrealist style makes quite an impact, leaving its defenseless surveyors questioning reality and the very existence of material things upon first sight of the animation.
“I wanted to characterize a linear world with cracks in its edifice,” reflects Lopatin. “One with a veneer of being breakable, but that instead just bends and stretches endlessly like rubber, preventing you from ever understanding its true properties. The proverbial ‘endless vista,' but with an end.” And man when the song starts, you think that these could be the sickest arpeggios you've ever heard and you just want them to last forever. But then BAM-- they disappear. And while you marvel in Lopatin's genius and savor in the self-prophesized defeat you've yearned for, you come to the realization that your mind has just been blown. And then BAM-- those synthetic yet acoustic arpeggios return and you don't even know what to think anymore. It should, however, be noted that this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what R Plus Seven has to offer-- just wait until you find yourself in "Chrome Country" crossing paths with the "Zebra."
Worshippers can preorder R Plus Seven from Warp Records and see the man live in action on some of his announced US and EU tourdates (shoutout Berghain!!).
On "Stone of Spiritual Understanding" from Oneohtrix Point Never's forthcoming split with Rene Hell, Daniel Lopatin reconstructs speech patterns into frenetic streams of glitching syllables and wisping white noise alterations. OPN's whole side of the record is constructed from his contributions to last year's multimedia Reliquary House installation at the MoMA, where he collaborated with video artist Nate Boyce to reinterpret the modernist sculptures of David Smith, Anthony Caro, Isamu Noguchi, and Tony Smith. "Stone of Spiritual Understanding" is based on his piece for Noguchi, and is available for stream below with the "Anecdotal" version that contains Noguchi's text-to-voice artist statement, the main sample source for the LP version of the track.
The Oneohtrix Point Never / Rene Hell split LP is out September 17th in the UK and September 18th in the U.S. on NNA Tapes.
This September, Glasgow-based experimentalist Richard Youngs will release his third solo album this year on Luke Younger of Helm and Birds of Delay's label, Alter. The Quietus shared an excerpt from the effort's cacophonous title track, "Rurtan", and also disclosed that the 12" will come loaded with remixes from the likes of drone veteran John Clyde-Evans, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Astral Social Club.
Following Oneohtrix Point Never's aforementioned Tim Hecker split on Software, OPN will release yet another split-- this time alongside Jeff Witscher's Rene Hell project. Each side is composed of five tracks: Lopatin's will come from a video installation that he worked with Nate Boyce on for MoMA called "Relinquary House", whereas Witscher's submission is culled from a suite dubbed "In 1980 I Was A Blue Square", which NNA Tapes describes as "mid-20th century classical music with chaotic electronic blasts".
NNA Tapes will release the split on September 17th in the UK, and the following day in the stateside.
If you were worried that uncanny valley vocal samples meant that Dan Lopatin had revoked his rightful heirship to Vangelis' throne, then this clip will help you sleep well for the first time since 2010. The music may be cornier than a bowl of grits, but hey, dude is scoring ballet for 16 flying robots. It's actually pretty fitting for what was probably William Gibson's idea of the 2012 Cannes Film festival. Look out for Oneohtrix Point Never's score for Disney World's "Wall-E: The Live Experience."