PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
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

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


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.