Oneohtrix Point Never
Good Time Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
A new soundtrack to an edgy bank robbery film sees Oneohtrix Point Never (OPN) drawing on his unique synthesiser-based music to bring the action to life. Daniel Lopatin, aka OPN, has created a remarkable body of work over the past 10 years. What started as retro-styled synth soundscapes originally released on CD-Rs and compiled on the wonderful Rifts (2009) has been followed by albums such as Returnal (2010), R Plus Seven (2013) and the latest LP Garden of Delete (2015), each pushing his music into new shapes and more accessible styles, with an ever-expanding audience.
More recently, collaborations with artists such as Anohni, FKA Twigs and DJ Earl have established him as an A-list ‘go to’ producer capable of infusing musical projects with his atmospheres and high-end production.
One attraction of Lopatin’s music is the quality of the sounds: rich and full-bodied electronic music that hark back to 70s and 80s modular synths, but that have a nuanced kind of palpable texture to them. Listening to OPN puts you in certain states of mind: part retro-leaning with the vintage-sounding synths, and part space traveller owing to the vastness of scales which some of the tracks function on.
Good Time is an original soundtrack for the new Safdie Brothers film, featuring Rob Pattison and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The album’s release was highly anticipated, as it won the best soundtrack at the Cannes film festival earlier in the year. In addition, the first single, The Pure and the Damned, features Iggy Pop, and is one of the highlights of the album.
As Lopatin has remarked in interviews, he’s drawn from his entire sonic palette to assemble this soundtrack with the encouragement of the filmmakers. Good Time’s overall feel is just what it’s designed for: a heist movie that does not quite go to plan, with a fall out of suffering for many of the characters. The soundtrack captures these moods in spades.
In keeping with the action, many of the tracks are somewhat restless, changing direction abruptly or gradually mid-song. The opening title track, Bail Bonds, Hospital Escape and The Acid Hits mirror the action scenes in the film, with a heart-pounding pace and panicked melodies. The feel is of 1970s cheap synthesizers and fast-moving notes propelling the music along. As with recent OPN work, percussion with a light touch gives the tracks some forward momentum as well. In other tracks, elements such as soaring electric guitars and full drum kits swinging (e.g. Ray Wakes Up) add to the quasi-cheesy 70s and 80s cinematic feel.
Parts of tracks such as Bail Bonds, Ray Wakes Up and the first half of Connie effectively generate tension and dread. In contrast, other tracks or parts of tracks provide samples of dialogue or add curious spacious sound effects, such as on 6th Floor and Adventurers.
Fans of OPN will find more familiar sounds from previous LPs on melodic tracks such as Hospital Escape/Access-A-Ride, Flashback and Romance Apocalypse. As an example of the kinds of structures in the tracks, in Leaving the Park a repeating synth motif is introduced which then gradually wobbles on its axis, with new melodies and synth lines eventually easing into the frame. Subtle percussion and some New Age guitar sounds provide some lift in the middle before the whole thing seems to drift away. The structure seems simple but it’s the care that goes in to producing the qualities of sounds and textures that invest such tracks with real emotional honesty. And isn’t this why we listen to such music?
The second half of penultimate track Connie begins to finally bring resolution, setting up the final track – The Pure and the Damned. Here, Iggy Pop lends his wise and weary voice to a skeletal piano piece that is simple and yet deeply affecting, the words of a survivor who’s not disillusioned with the world despite the hardships experienced, but at peace with his surroundings and dreams. A fine coda to the album, and one of the most memorable tracks of the year.
Lopatin’s style has always been visual, including live performances with videos, and the commission to create a film soundtrack is a natural progression to his music and recent collaborations. Good Time is more twitchy and nervous and with a shorter attention span than your typical OPN album, but here Lopatin has taken up the challenge and remained faithful to the action depicted in the film. Ultimately, Good Time is the work of a master musician pushing his craft in new ways to sculpt a wild ride of an action movie soundtrack. An ambitious addition to the OPN catalogue that continually takes the listener to new places.