OVAL: Oh (Thrill Jockey)


Posted on Jun 14th 2010 12:39 am

Filed in Singles/EPs | Tags: ,
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Oval: Oh

Thrill Jockey 2010
15 Tracks. 25mins03secs
Format: 12”

Amazon UK: 12″ US: 12″ Boomkat: 12″

It has been ten years since Markus Popp propped up as Oval, a project with which he had been fiercely busy since the early nineties, releasing six albums and countless EPs. The project was started in 1991 in Darmstadt, Germany by Popp, Sebastian Oschatz and Frank Metzger. Five years later, Popp found himself sole in charge following the departure of both Oschatz and Metzger, and continued to experiment with glitches and clicks until his last release to date, in 2001.

Fast-forward to 2010, and Oval is back with a new EP, prelude to a full length double album due out later on this summer. Comprising no less than fifteen tracks, covering a mere twenty-five minutes, Oh represents quite a departure from the granular electronica that has been at the core of the Oval sound since the early days. Instead, he embarks here on a very different journey and relies on surprisingly acoustic sounds, mostly guitars and drums, with virtually no glitches in sight. This is the result of a complete change of working processes. Popp has, for this record, ditched custom-designed software and patches and armed himself with a handful of widely available off-the-shelves programs instead. There is also here a stronger focus on clear melodic structures, although these are often kept to fragments, the tracks rarely reaching over a couple of minutes. It is as if Popp was collecting random ideas, but instead of developing them into full tracks, he purposely kept them in draft state. This is reinforced by the apparent small pool of sounds used. Processed guitars are the main components of these fifteen tracks, with drums also playing quite an important role on the first four, occasionally brining to mind the psychedelic tones of Fourtet, especially on Hmmm and on the title track.

Later on, Popp crafts much more minimal pieces, which often shimmer with minute sonic particles, giving them a slightly unpolished feel. While this doesn’t quite define the whole record, it represents a major slant in the approach here. Tracks such as Kastell, Featurette, Kasko or Homesick appear to be more elaborate than they actually are, as sounds are ever so slightly distorted, enough to give them a processed aspect and alter the perception of the listener, but not enough to render them totally unidentifiable. As the second side progressively draws to a close, the mood changes once again to become more introspective. This is reflected in a more straightforward approach to sound sources, which lose their fragmented aspect to appear more natural, especially on Locria and Nonfiction.

With this EP, Markus Popp unveils a totally new direction, away from the heavy digital processing of earlier records. The music here appears much more pastoral and elegant, and, instead of focussing solely on sound, caters for delicate melodies, albeit often in truncated form. All this is, however, still unmistakably Oval, and this EP, released at only a thousand copies, paves the way for a long-awaited new album which is likely to expand greatly on the work presented here.


Thrill Jockey
Amazon UK: 12″ US: 12″ Boomkat: 12″

Filed in Singles/EPs | Tags: ,
Comments (4)

4 Responses to “OVAL: Oh (Thrill Jockey)”

  1. Tschssieon 06 Jul 2010 at 6:50 am

    Kastell Video


  2. themilkmanon 08 Jul 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks for posting this. It’s a rather short one, but none of the tracks are very long on this release.

  3. […] sounds as main components, collating them into particularly short and dense vignettes. The recent Oh EP, which collected fifteen tracks spread over twenty five minutes, served to introduce this much […]

  4. InmMarioSuredaon 20 Sep 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Great job. I recommended this album revision: