MYRIAD is a masterful synthesis of musicianship and electronic experimentation, taking you on a sonic exploration through twisted digital landscapes. Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never, with the addition of the MYRIAD ensemble, have created an enthralling performance that extends beyond just music. I was lucky enough to come across this back in July, at The Barbican, one of London's iconic venues. MYRIAD explores the depths of the virtual and the huma,n through sonic and visual immersion, and leaves you wondering what exactly it is that you have just witnessed.
MYRIAD is the first time Lopatin has performed his music as part of a live ensemble, bringing together adapted material from his latest album ‘Age Of’. The album is an unusual development in Lopatin’s sound, the chaotic and brutal heavy metal electronica of his previous album ‘Garden Of Delete’ making way for baroque-style harpsichords and heavily auto-tuned vocals. The latest material has allowed Lopatin to explore the live aspect of his music to new levels, creating a powerful combination of production and performance.
Opening with the albums self-titled title track ‘Age Of’, the performance explored the journey through the fictional seasons of Ecco, Harvest, Excess, and Bondage, as seen through the eyes of an intrigued alien figure. The material shifted between sublime uplifting passages and jagged noise obscurity. The choral lifts of ‘Toys 2’ were a particular powerful moment as the synths built to their beautiful peak, compared to barren and eerie noise stabs of ‘We’ll Take It’. Both extremes held their own, providing a striking contrast to one another. On one end of the stage keys were performed by Kelly Morgan, who played jagged and awkward harpsichord lines to unbelievable effect. On the other, Eli Keszler played expressive and unusual drum rolls across skin and hardware, evocative of free jazz. To witness what is assumed to be MIDI composed elements performed on their respective instruments is impressive in of itself, even before you consider the sonic complexity of OPN’s music. This creative fusion of traditional instrumentation with the backing of Lopatin’s and Aaron David Ross’s synthesis and vocals, created a refreshing originality that only comes along every once in a while.
MYRIAD isn’t just a musical performance, with visuals courtesy of Nate Boyce supplementing each track so well that they became an equal part, leaving you feeling that one could not be experienced without the other. Unfamiliar alien skulls hung from either side of the stage, while distorted CGI imagery and landscapes helped pull you into a vast digital universe. Nostalgic sci-fi montages and images of lost galactic civilisations were a reminder of what might be to come, whilst providing some unusual comfort. The track ‘Black Snow’ was accompanied by a dance troupe of cheerleading cowgirls, adding to the surreal-ness of the performance and reaffirming that this was an artist who knew exactly what they were trying to do. The band left the stage to a standing ovation and a collective awe. They returned to play ‘Chrome Country’, the closing track of OPN’s album ‘R Plus Seven’, an organ driven emotional colossus that seemed to perfectly sum up the tense and amazed atmosphere inside the Barbican main hall.
It would be hard to overstate the emotional power of Lopatin’s music throughout his now lengthy back catalogue, in which he has always maintained a nuanced and relatable insight into the human experience. Considering the meticulous detail that has gone into MYRIAD, the performance at its core suggests something very pure, very human. Opening a door to our individual and collective shortcomings, and offering an insight into our own experience with the world. For all of the abstract experimentation that MYRIAD offers, at no point do you feel shut out by esoteric ideas, and there is a simple message within that touches close to heart.
The MYRIAD ensemble is Daniel Lopatin, Kelly Moran, Aaron David Ross, and Eli Kesler.