For over thirty years, Oval’s Markus Popp has been making music from an eclectic array of sound sources. 1994’s Systemisch and 1995’s 94 Diskont featured glitchy soundscapes created from deliberately damaged CDs; 1998’s Dok was built on field recordings of bells taken around the world; and 2010’s O relied on the sounds that came with a basic PC.
By that standard, this year’s Romantiq might be one of Popp’s most straightforward releases to date, with its reliance of traditional instruments. Of course, this being Oval, none of the album’s ten songs sound remotely traditional, as Popp warps, shifts, and blurs his sounds into something completely otherworldly. And in the case of “Touha,” something that’s absolutely beautiful, as well, as a kaleidoscopic array of chimes dance, flutter, and cascade through its four minutes.
The pleasant tones bring to mind both Aphex Twin’s Drukqs and Björk’s Vespertine, but the fragile little musical world that Popp creates is entirely its own. That special-ness is enhanced by Robert Seidel’s surreal music video in which forest and mountain landscapes morph in and through each other in a most impressionistic fashion, like ink wash paintings suddenly come to life.