Markus Popp’s now legendary early Oval album releases 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 an entire 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, spanning two EPs (Oh EP and Oval/Liturgy split EP), two double CDs/DVDs (O and OvalDNA) as well as a brand new, surprise collaboration album (Calidostópia!)—proving him as one of the prolific and 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 an 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, Apparat, Tortoise, Mouse on Mars, Warren Suicide, Squarepusher, Jim O’Rourke, Pizzicato 5, Gastr Del Sol etc.
Newer additions to Popp’s portfolio are audio for 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 and 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 Records) opened an exciting new chapter in Popp’s ongoing critical dialog with music. This striking, 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 and sensibility in contemporary music: handcrafted polyrhythmic phrases, riffs and structures, bristling with tiny resonances and detail—adding up to fluid, timeless tunes that are effortlessly traversing rhythms, scales and harmonies while always remaining compact and 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, two-disc (CD + DVD-ROM) multimedia release is taking things to the next level: OvalDNA is part rarities-compilation (featuring 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, ten bonus tracks and a new piece of music productivity software. OvalDNA has instantly received very favorable reviews worldwide, has been proclaimed “best new reissue” by Pitchfork.com and has won the prestigious 2013 QWARTZ-Award.
Popp’s newest work Calidostópia!, supported by Goethe Institutes and cultural foundation of the state of Bahia, is the result of a 10-day, blind-date-esque studio session with seven young, talented singers from all over South America and was recorded in Salvador De Bahia/Brazil. Rapid prototyping + unlimited enthusiasm + working in three shifts = metamelomusical supermerger. Popp came to Brazil with tons of released as well as unreleased material—and returned home with dozens of all-new, beautiful songs. Best of all, Calidostópia! is a free, legal download from www.markuspopp.me.
In an age of fiddling with frequencies, Markus Popp keeps on reinventing music—merging uncompromising high tech with compelling musicality: distinctly doing his own thing, yet always enthusiastically dealing with the “now”.