Daniel Lopatin ambles onstage, grungily dishevelled and unshaven, to face a packed Sneaky Pete’s audience equally grungily dishevelled and unshaven.
He mutters a few inaudible words into a microphone before settling himself behind a mini-keyboard/computer bank and prepares to take us on a mini-journey into our refracted collective memories of dated electronic music.
This is the genre labelled by writers desperate to apply terminology to anything lacking a moniker as “Chillwave” or perhaps “Hypnagogic pop”, either one meaningless in their own right. As Oneohtrix Point Never, Brooklyn’s Lopatin is at the forefront of this spurious movement.
Truthfully, there is little new here that the likes of seventies German electronica pioneers such as Cluster’s Roedelius and Moebius weren’t doing long ago. That is, using electronics as a warmly burbling inner landscape of one’s own. It’s private interior music which feels more at home on late night headphones than in a sweaty rock bar.
Lopatin’s short, seemingly improvised, set comes across as the imaginary score for a particularly low-budget early eighties sci-fi film. Having coincidentally seen the truly dreadful Roger Corman Star Wars rip-off Battle Beyond The Stars on TV the night before, I can’t help feeling it would make a perfect backdrop for the music, particularly as any visual element to this show is totally non-existent.
Splintered, fracturing beats provide the basis core over which swathes of degraded ambience wash. It’s a bit like being inside an old busted-up C90 mix tape attempting to play a fifth hand copy of the Blade Runner soundtrack. At times, Lopatin veers into territory akin to a warped Future Sound of London. The biggest event of the evening comes when a blown fuse suddenly stops everything dead for a minute or so.
I can’t deny it’s all quite pleasant, if hardly essential, though the nodding heads of Lopatin’s disciples around me show I’m in a minority amongst zealous acolytes. It’s basically the sound of electronic music from the past forty years put into a blender and mashed around. The future made into shared nostalgia. The end of our electric dreams.