Shapeshifter

Inhabiting the space between ambient and musique concrète, the music of Oval (a.k.a. Markus Popp) skims upon an icelike surface of digitalia. Low-end drones rumble below as melodies and rhythmic static skitter upon the surface. The majority of Oval's work is made up of sounds created and manipulated using Popp's own Ovalprocess software. The resulting sonic model represents a giant step in the evolution of sound sculpture.

The tracks on Ovalprocess are unnamed, which only serves to accentuate their removal from traditional conventions of songwriting. The propulsive rhythmic static of track 3 (RealAudio excerpt) recalls DJ cut-ups, while its fuzzed-out drones create a blanket upon which clusters of tones dart smoothly.

Lines between randomness and strict systematization blur, as if representing both the imposed structure and unpredictability of 21st-century life. It is the juxtaposition of these two opposing and complimentary forces (best exemplified on track 8 [RealAudio excerpt]) that is so captivating.

Overdriven dissonance has rarely sounded so bewitching as on track 9 (RealAudio excerpt), in which Popp uses a subliminal layer of white noise to expert effect. With its lack of momentum, the song is the aural equivalent of a person meandering without destination.