Artist bio

Although Oval are perhaps more well-known for how they make their music than for the music they actually make, the German experimental electronic trio have provided an intriguing update of some elements of avant-garde composition in combination with techniques of digital sound design, resulting in some of the most original, if somewhat challenging electronic music of the contemporary scene. Originally composed of Markus Popp, Sebastian Oschatz, and Frank Metzger, Oval gradually became the work of just Popp, with Metzger providing most of the visual and design work. The bulk of Popp's work, released through the Force Inc.-related Mille Plateaux label, incorporates elements of what could be described as "prepared compact disc" -- manually marred and scarified CDs played and sampled for the resultant, somewhat randomly patterned rhythmic clicking. Layered together with subtle, sparse melodies and quirky electronics, the results are often as oddly musical as they are just plain odd. Popp brought this approach to bare on the first full-length Oval releases -- Wohnton, Systemische and 94 Diskont -- as well as a number of compilation tracks. Although a rung below marginal in their home country and even more obscure in the States, Oval's remixes of Chicago post-rock group Tortoise brought them in contact with American audiences; both Systemische and 94 Diskont, as well as Markus Popp's work as Microstoria (with Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner) were reissued domestically by Thrill Jockey in 1996. One year later, the Dok LP featured Oval's collaboration with Christophe Charles. After 1999's Szenario EP, Popp and co. returned in 2000 with Ovalprocess. (Sean Cooper)