Daniel Lopatin, better known as Oneohtrix Point Never, has always been interested in movies and their soundtracks.
In an interview with Rolling Stones, few years ago, he stated that “Toys 2” – a song taken from his latest album Age Of – was the concept for how he would score a Pixar movie.
A year prior, under his stage name, Lopatin scored a “real” soundtrack for a movie: “Good Time”, made by Josh and Benny Safdie. This one allowed him to win the Cannes Award for the best movie score.
After two years, Uncut Gems marks the second collaboration between Lopatin and the Safdie brothers, reinforcing their winning bond.
Uncut Gems tells the story of Howard Ratner – played by Adam Sandler – a Jewish jeweler, who runs a store in New York, attended by rappers and celebrities – like Kevin Durant, one of the co-protagonist – and struggles to pay back his debts. The movie has a lot of Scorsese-like influences (by the way, Scorsese here is the executive producer), settled in a sub-urban New York, an underworld made by celebrities who think diamonds have some kind of magic power and can affect the way their life goes, loan-sharks, Jewish pawn shops, popstars (The Weeknd is in it too), where every promise has expired yesterday. In this scenario, Lopatin fits incredibly well, dictating the hyper-stressful pace of the movie with his music, going along with Adam Sandler’s existence of utter mayhem, made by poor life choices that brings him in more chaotic situations.
Lopatin takes a step forward his latest soundtrack-work, drawing inspiration from some of the most important scores cornerstones, like Tangerine Dreams, Jerry Goldsmith and Vangelis, adding his (post)new-age touch. In particularly, like Lopatin himself said in a recent interview, he takes from Vangelis his “spiritualistic”, revealing sound, mixing it with church choirs and futuristic synths to create an estranging soundscape.
The score, as mentioned before, dictates the rhythm of the movie: accelerates when Howard life takes thrilling-turns, and takes little breaks here and there, that makes the viewer breathing for one second before the anxiety-machine made by OPN starts again. And this incredible dramaturgic energy, enrichies every track of the album: the opening track – which follows a CGI long-shot of Adam Sandler’s intestine – with its magniloquent choirs and drums (played by Eli Keszler) sets the mood, the more melodic interludes, the carnivalesque rhythm of “F**k Howard” that, in some way, reprises the “Ode to Joy” theme playing in the vinyl shop in Clockwork Orange. As we get closer to the end, there are several tracks where the drums become more and more relevant, reminding the solemn gait of scores like Akira. The last track, “Mohegan Suite”, is also stunning: the higher point of the climax built in the ending sequences, that acts as the final credits to what could be one of the best movies of the year and one of the best soundtracks of the entire decade.