Oval - biography

Ever since his first groundbreaking album releases, Markus Popp aka "oval" continues to be one of the most prolific and influential forces in contemporary electronic music - a laptop legend and true visionary of digital audio.  

Popp's now legendary early album releases sent shockwaves though the electronic music landscape and laid the foundations for an entire new class of digital sound & production aesthetics.  With an undeniable instinct for the pleasantly irritating, the drastic and the dreamy, Popp pioneered "glitch" and "clicks & cuts" - inspiring and provoking a new generation of music producers to this day.

The raw, yet strangely organic appeal of many of Popp's albums are regarded as watershed moments for the entire genre.  Many of his tracks and remixes have been described as timeless, haunting classics, earning him critical acclaim worldwide - as well as the occasional art award here and there. He has toured extensively, rocking out on all sorts of stages of all sizes between Auckland, New Zealand and the Roskilde Festival.

Popp has constantly refined his signature style and instantly recognizable aesthetics in several collaborations, most notably with the long-running projects MICROSTORIA (duo with Mouse On Mars-legend Jan St. Werner) and SO (with Japanese songwriter extraordinaire Eriko Toyoda).  Popp has also worked for/with:  BJÖRK, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO, TORTOISE, MOUSE ON MARS, SQUAREPUSHER, PIZZICATO 5, GASTR DEL SOL etc.

Fast-forward to 2010. With the "Oh" EP and the double CD "O", oval opens up a new chapter with a surprise move:  this striking, 101-track extravaganza is a radical departure - challenging music on its' own turf. Out of nowhere, Popp debuts as a producer of unexpected versatility far beyond the electronic music arena.  "o" is a wild ride - from delicate, sophisticated pop vignettes to brutally torn, electro-acoustic riffing full of angular, colliding guitar work, accompanied by "free" drumming that evolves organically over the course of a track.  

This new oval sound is a celebration of a new level of skill & sensibility in contemporary music: handcrafted polyrhythmic phrases, riffs and structures, bristling with tiny resonances & detail - adding up to timeless tunes which are effortlessly traversing rhythms, scales and harmonies. But despite the picturesque, accessible "songwriter 2.0" trappings, this record is no revisionist, kitschy "love letter to music", i is a 2010 hi-tech product.

Some lesser-known facts: Popp's music video for Mouse On Mars' "Twift" (1995), made entirely inside a then cutting-edge 3D-videogame engine/SDK, could actually be called proto-Machinima. Popp has contributed to video games & interactive applications, for example an entire hidden level in Tetsuya Mitsuguchi's visionary, abstract shooter REZ. He has also contributed music for several art house movies & advertising (Armani, Comme Des Garcons, Prada, Harmony Korine, Darko Dragicevic, Masako Tanaka etc).  

Popp has also made several interactive and software-based works. "Ovalprocess", a custom interactive sound platform/installation powered by his custom-made audio software, has been exhibited worldwide, for example in the Centre Pompidou, Chicago's Cultural Center or the K21, the NRW state museum in Düsseldorf - as well as in many other national museums, art spaces & galleries around the world (Barcelona, Berlin, Karlsruhe, New York , Tokyo etc).  

Popp's outspoken, yet constructive digital media critique is razor-sharp just as much as it is entertaining. Over the course of many lectures, workshops and presentations he has shared his creative vision - with topics ranging from "alternative workflows in time-based media" to his very own flavor of contemporary video game discourse; advocating  a perspective on media productivity that simply does not cease to challenge conventions.