Oval – Ringtones (Thrill Jockey) download
As previously mentioned, Markus Popp – aka Oval – has decided to follow up his comeback 12″, Oh, with a free download EP, cheekily titled Ringtones. The two sides of Oh were very clearly compartmentalized, with side A featuring Oval’s most conventionally “musical” material to date and side B presenting some of the raw materials used in the construction of these surprisingly beat-driven tunes. Apparently, the upcoming 2CD album, O, will use a similar structure.
Although the tracks on Oh’s B side are exceptionally brief, they feel satisfyingly like a logical development of the classic Oval sound. The side A tracks are highly enjoyable too but there’s a sense that Popp’s musical personality is being lost in the quest to make his tracks musical and give them personality. Therefore, long-term Oval fans are likely to find the shorter, more abstract pieces – which Popp has dubbed “ringtones” – more nourishing.
As the title suggests, the Ringtones MP3 EP consists of a few more of these abstract sketches. One might reasonably speculate this release is Popp’s acknowledgement that his rawer tracks are actually more musically satisfying. It seems more likely, though, that he’s simply feeling generous after holding out on his public for around a decade – he probably just wants to release as much stuff as possible.
In any case, Ringtones features eight pieces plus a bonus track available exclusively through FACT magazine. The whole thing lasts only nine minutes, which means that the EP would probably make a pretty kick-ass 7″, if Thrill Jockey chose to get it pressed up. The pieces themselves are even rawer (and perhaps, for that very reason, even more satisfying) than the building blocks presented on the B-side of Oh. Song titles like “Tapasbar” and “Candyplex” do a great deal to evoke the whimsical nature of the music, which is modestly but deeply beguiling.
Despite its apparently throw-away nature, Ringtones is absolutely essential listening for Oval fans everywhere. Go download it from Thrill Jockey.