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Go Ahead, Play Games

Oneohtrix Point Never's musical project with Joel Ford takes on 3D waves and throbbing midi-funk

It might be strange to refer to a brand new band as being “circa 1994”, but that’s precisely when Games—composed of longtime friends Daniel Lopatin (of Oneohtrix Point Never renown) and Joel Ford—consider themselves to have formed… at least in their larval stage. “We met in 1994 and have always been jamming together,” Ford says. However, it wasn’t until they moved into their Bushwick apartment in New York City that the boys were afforded the luxury to actually record music as Games. Having just released their inaugural 7”, “Everything is Working” / “Heartlands” on Los Angeles label Hippos in Tanks, the duo is rapidly making 3D waves in darker electronic circles, thanks in no small part to their gauzy, throbbing take on midifunk, hifi r&b, and ambient new age burners.

The backwash is so dense and engaging that it’s both cybernetic and physical: “The physicality and environmental factors of sound are on an equal plane,” says Lopatin. “We’re kind of like alchemists in the way we like to discover different sonic environments with awesome flavor combos.” Such combos are highly evocative of the ever-expansive narrative of ambient electronic music—one that has surged of late, everywhere from the hazy bedroom “sleephouse” of Teengirl Fantasy to the brooding and esoteric grave-wave (or to the Twitterati, “witch house”) of acts like SALEM and Balam Acab. “At this point,” Ford reasons, “you’re basically looking at a century’s worth of ambient/electronic sound whether it’s recorded or incidental. People get it and love it. It’s not experimental anymore, so in that way it’s a new era for that expressive mode. Like, when The Dream makes a hit R&B single, his love of ambient is reaching people intrinsically.”

Whether it’s in the form of such radio-friendly confections or in the fuzzy, stoned stomp of Games’ “MIDI Drift”, the future holds a prismatic sheen for those who are able to harness such symphonic atmospheres into 3-minute segments, like digital relics from a parallel age. Next up for Games is a full-length debut this winter. Apart from that, “we’d like to start our own label and continue to produce tracks for ourselves and other artists. It would be great to get into some film work. Our dream is to score Blade 4.”

Text by Patrik Sandberg

Photos by Peter Sutherland

The November issue of Dazed & Confused is out now.