“I’m just so…distrusting of everything right now,” Lopatin says, in a sort of half-chuckle, half-resigned-whisper—as though he know how it sounds to be saying it, but he can’t help himself. He’s is speaking, broadly, of the tenuous state of geopolitics in our current moment, but he also has feelings about other less obvious societal forces. He expresses dismay at the unshakeable feeling that he’s being controlled by forces bigger than him, and he gestures toward this intangible “ether” or “a thin filament of anxiety” that’s been a perpetual companion in the Trump era. “It’s hard to align myself with anything,” he says. “Everything seems like a cult.”Lopatin is sensitive to the pervasive idea that “the wrong mythologies” have power to cause disastrous shifts in culture—that, for example, Trumpian fantasies fulfilled the needs of a certain noxious subset of the population. “Alt-Right trolls basically generated a ton of response to Trump by creating insane mythologies that titillated people that had no tether to community,” he surmises. “Seriously disenfranchised people needed some kind of release, some kind of fucked up way of seeing the world, and they generated for themselves a mythological universe of dangerous ideas that are being propagated.”
“There’s not some kind of truth; there’s just sci-fi fantasy,”—Daniel Lopatin
This is all before the music starts—but when it does, it is, of course, snowblinding. The tracks of Age Of get rearranged into their original epochal structure, and broken down for four sets of hands. Drippy wurlitzer fantasias bleed into Auto-Tuned ballads punctuated with death metal growls and the delirious swirl of cello loops, care of Age Of collaborators Prurient and Kelsey Lu, respectively. Each of those guests make stunning impressions amidst the celestial din, but none so much as the crew of dancers in cowboy hats who sauntered, dead-eyed, through a bleak performance of the record’s lead single “Black Snow,” a slow, still ballad that roils with the apocalyptic energy that Lopatin describes the following day. It feels like an elegy for the end of the world.
“I was never totally sold on this idea that I’m just a musician," Lopatin says. "I wanted to be the Tim Burton of music."