Music

Beats, Glitches and Melody: Oval's 'Eksploio' Is a Rich, Modern Treat for the Ears

Photo: Courtesy of Thrill Jockey

Electronic musician Markus Popp continues to make warm, creative and adventurous electronic music under the Oval moniker with his new EP, Eksploio.

Eksploio
Oval

Thrill Jockey

8 November 2019

Markus Popp was originally a member of the three-piece electronic outfit Oval, but ever since Sebastian Oschatz and Frank Metzger left in 1995, Popp *is* Oval. For someone whose bread and butter are synthesizers and programming, Popp has done a wonderful job of staying on top of technology and how it applies to his music. Software and programming manipulation, the anticipation of AI trends in composition, hauling computers on the road for live performances – it's easy to fall behind in a music genre so dependent on state-of-the-art technology. But Popp has stayed remarkably prolific over the years, releasing a steady stream of albums that champion the art of electronic, ambient, and noise-leaning sounds.

Eksploio is his latest EP, and it's something of an appetizer to his next full-length album, Scis (to be released in January 2020). The album continues Popp's on-again, off-again relationship with Thrill Jockey, a label known more for heavier, guitar-oriented music. Thrill Jockey probably sees a kindred spirit in Oval, as the music tends to teeter on the edge of chaos. The title track of Eksploio begins innocently enough with slightly glitchy keyboard figures. But as more and more interesting sounds and patches enter the mix, it becomes somewhat overcrowded, but not necessarily in a way that suggests complete disarray. It's more along the lines of gleeful mayhem, a party packed with boisterous guests with great stories to tell.

"Paragramm" is a great example of Popp incorporating unique samples that fall outside the perimeters of "normal" electronic music. Airy sounds of wind and rain creep in and out of the mix, letting the song breathe a little within the noisy drum programming. "Blissous" includes what sounds like a prepared piano that brings to mind the recent ambient works of Ryuichi Sakamoto. The start/stop glitches that invade the otherworldly "Ambik" is electronic music at the height of sonic fidelity, reminiscent of Joe Williams' Motion Graphics project. It's playful chaos, a celebration of everything experimental synthesizer programming can be, and while it delves into moments of disarray, it never seems to be at the expense of melody. Popp is focusing more on the compositional aspect of his music than ever before.

By the time Eksploio closes with the warm tangle of "Brockaat", Oval's brief 2019 offering is a fast, exhilarating ride through the futuristic musical mind of Markus Popp, and a joyous preview of the full-length album that awaits fans in early 2020.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.