Daniel Lopatin, the visionary producer behind Oneohtrix Point Never, gives some very generous insight into his process composing the score for the Safdie brothers’ 2019 film Uncut Gems in a new documentary short from Moog Music.
The score, one of the year’s best, extensively uses a Moog One synthesizer, and draws on early avant-garde New Age works by artists like Suzanne Ciani and Vangelis. Like those New Age records of the past, Uncut Gems’ soundtrack evokes a certain cold spirituality. Lopatin discusses the influence the film’s cinematography had on his scoring, such as the film’s opening and closing micrograph-inspired sequences. He often veers into a philosophical approach, referring to the “alchemical process” that inform the “majestic … rich … new … [not] transient,” textural soundscape he taps into. The score manages to avoid cliches and provide shocking, resonant moments that couldn’t be portrayed without Lopatin’s sinewy synth—he talks at length about his desire to do justice to Julia Fox’s character, setting a scene of her rage to a symphonic, proggy, Haydn-esque track. It portrays her anger as a triumph, a thoughtful take on her character’s psyche.
Later, he’s joined by one-half of the film’s director-brother duo, Josh Safdie. Safdie jokingly compares the Moog One (as well as Lopatin himself) to Adam Sandler, stating he “admire[s] it deeply, was a little afraid of it, but [he] knew what it was capable of.” The Safdie brothers and Lopatin previously collaborated on their film Good Time, winning the 2017 Cannes Film Festival Soundtrack award. Despite this, the soundtrack for Uncut Gems doesn’t attempt to bottle the same lightning: Instead, it informs a fresh, enthusiastic angle on filmmaking, which conceptualizes a film as defined by its visual content as it is its audio.
Watch the full interview below.