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Oval, Back from South America

A free album of collaborations with various vocalists

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Oval, aka Berlin-based Markus Popp, took an extended working holiday through South America, and we got a 16-track compilation album of him performing with a variety of singers. And, better yet, the compilation, titled Calidostópia!, is free, thanks to funding from the Goethe Institute and the Cultural Foundation of the State of Bahia. The singers include Agustín Albrieu (Argentina), Dandara Modesto (Brazil), Andrés Gualdrón (Columbia), Maité Gadea (Uruguay), Aiace Felix (Brazil), Hana Kobayashi (Venezuela), and Emilia Suto (Brazil). There are 16 tracks in all, opening with “Featurette,” in which Albrieu sounds a bit like a subdued David Byrne atop a plectrum spectral fantasy committed by Oval. On “Oh!” the pizzicato instrumentation is met halfway by Sutro’s dadaist repertoire of restrained flourishes. Throughout we are reminded just how much the use of traditional band sounds — guitars, drums — has transformed our understanding of Popp’s music. What was once the glitch in the machine has since become a matter of surreal verisimilitude, a music whose challenges are belied by its surface familiarity. (For longtime Popp listeners, the effect of Calidostópia! is quite different from So, the album he created with vocalist Eriko Toyoda, and which retained the deeply digital sensibility of his earlier work.)

This streaming preview set includes brief segments of tracks from the album:

It’s available as both MP3 and FLAC. The latter is 200 megabytes, but well worth the space entailed. More on/from Oval/Popp at markuspopp.me.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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