Monday, August 10, 2009

2003 : 20 "b" by So

One of my favorite musicians of all time is Markus Popp, aka Oval, who memorably explored the aesthetics of glitch, digital error, and algorithmic noise through a string of excellent albums in the late 1990s (most notably Systemich (1994), Dok (1998), and Szenariodisk (1999)). For most of the Aughts, however, he's been laying low: there's been no release under the Oval name since 2001, and the only other release Popp's been involved with since then is a 2003 collaboration with vocalist Eriko Toyoda, released under the name "So."

There are rumors that he's got something new in the works, but if he'd hung it up for good So would be a fitting swan song: it's perhaps the most delicate and affecting of any of the projects he's been involved with. Toyoda's vocals are wispy and fragile, and using them as source material has the effect of tempering Popp's tendency towards fragmentation. The aesthetic of sonic disassembly is still very much at work, but here it feels gentle, tender, maybe even romantic—less at exploding and more at undressing. The result is a vaguely erotic atmosphere of sound, a kind of polymorphous haze, through which we can glimpse mingled elements of men and women, ghosts and machines. A very fine, very beautiful, very human album.

Jeremy Bushnell

Listen: So >> "b"

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