Two discs and almost 2 hours worth of seventy (yes, 7-0) short tracks based on loops of guitar harmonics and minimal keyboard notes may seem a bit much, but Oval manage to make it work. “O” is the latest from Markus Popp and these meditative phrases, like the creaks in an old house or the sound of pipes when the heat is on in winter, are comforting as well as suitable for reflection.
Popp had been quiet for ten years before resurfacing earlier this year with “Oh,” a fifteen track set that featured more sustained songs, at least structurally, than his previous work. Apparently that was just a tease however, as “O” returns him to his familiar stuttered composition.
Though best heard in sequence and in its entirety, certain tracks stand out, notably those that last over two minutes. “Dynamo,” “Dolo” and “Java” allow sufficient space—and silence—for his notes and tones to go deep; like the works of a clock, each tone has room to be heard leisurely, repetitively, in a way that is familiar and comforting. That isn’t to say that the 50 second to a minute and a half tracks such as “Citybike” and “Dream Over” can’t stand alone, but they work best as movements or sections of the larger overall structure.
Markus Popp, as Oval, has never shied away from the simple statement, repeated incessantly. “O” may take this to an extreme with so many short tracks that are either parts of a larger whole, or an overkill of repetitive motifs, depending on your ear. To this reviewer, there is a subtle grace here and quiet power, the kind that can be seen all around you in the course of a most ordinary day. 6/10 -- Mike Wood (1 September, 2010)