1991 – present (27 years)
There is more than one band with the name Oval :
1) Markus Popp’s now legendary early albums sent shockwaves through the “electronica” landscape in the late 1990’s - introducing a unique, new sound and digital production aesthetic. With an undeniable instinct for the pleasantly irritating, the drastic and the dreamy, Popp pioneered “glitch” and “clicks & cuts”, inspiring and provoking a whole generation of musicians to this day.
After a long hiatus, Oval is back, changing the game all over again with a new, groundbreaking “hyperreal” style and no less than 150+ compelling tracks total, spanning an EP and two double CDs/DVDs - proving him as one of *the* prolific & influential forces in contemporary electronic music, a true visionary of digital audio and beyond.
The distinctive, organic appeal of Popp’s 1990s tracks, remixes and albums are regarded as watershed moments for the genre: timeless, haunting classics, earning him critical acclaim all over the world and the occasional media/art award here and there.
Popp has continuously refined his instantly recognizable signature style in numerous musical collaborations, most notably with the long-running projects MICROSTORIA (duo with Mouse On Mars’ Jan St. Werner) and SO (with Japanese songwriter extraordinaire Eriko Toyoda). Popp has also worked for/with: BJÖRK, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO, TORTOISE, MOUSE ON MARS, WARREN SUICIDE, SQUAREPUSHER, JIM O’ROURKE, PIZZICATO 5, GASTR DEL SOL etc.
Newer additions to Popp’s portfolio are film, installation art, dance and interactive media. He designed his own music software (Ovalprocess, his interactive audio installation platform, won “Prix Ars Electronica”), contributed a secret bonus stage to Tetsuya Mitsuguchi’s visionary video game “REZ” (SEGA/SONY) as well as original sound track work for contemporary dance pieces and for several art house movies and TV commercials (Armani, Comme Des Garcons, Prada, Harmony Korine, Amberley Productions, Masako Tanaka).
Over the course of many lectures, workshops and presentations, Popp has shared his creative vision with topics ranging from today’s digital audio workflow and open source to interactive design and video games.
A new Oval sound - he only changed everything
In 2010, the “Oh” EP and the subsequent Double-CD “O” (both on Chicago-based Thrill Jockey Recordings) opened up an exciting new chapter in Popp’s ongoing critical dialog with music. This arresting, 101-track extravaganza was a radical departure: as before, Oval was challenging music-as-we-know-it, but now things were happening on music’s own turf.
Out of nowhere, Popp debuted as a studio producer of unexpected versatility beyond the electronic music arena. “O” - which received a honorary mention by the “Prix Ars Electronica 2011” - is a wild ride: exploring a wide spectrum from delicate, sophisticated pop vignettes to brutally torn, electro-acoustic riffing full of angular, colliding guitar work accompanied by “free”, yet ultra-precise acoustic “live” drumming.
This new, post 2010-Oval sound is a celebration of the next level of skill & sensibility in contemporary music: handcrafted polyrhythmic phrases, riffs and structures, bristling with tiny resonances & detail - adding up to fluid, timeless tunes that are effortlessly traversing rhythms, scales and harmonies while remaining compact & catchy. And despite its’ picturesque, accessible “songwriter 2.0” trappings, “O” is by no means a revisionist, kitschy “love letter to music”.
“OvalDNA” (2012), Popp’s 35-track-, opus magnum-esque, 2-disc (CD + DVD-ROM) release is taking things to the next level: it is part rarities-compilation (with previously unreleased and hard-to-find tracks from 1993-2010), part open source manifesto (the DVD-ROM contains a sound file library of 2000+ original source clips) – plus Oval’s “lost” 2007 album, a professional video documentary, music videos, liner notes and a new music productivity software.
“OvalDNA” has instantly received very favorable reviews worldwide and has been proclaimed “Best new reissue” by PITCHFORK.
In an age of fiddling with presets, clips & frequencies, Markus Popp keeps reinventing music - merging uncompromising, bleeding edge tech with mesmerizing musicality: distinctly doing his own thing, yet always enthusiastically dealing with the “now”.
2) Oval is a rock band from NJ, USA. They recorded two EPs for Icerink records (run by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne)in 1992/93.
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