Oval‘s Markus Popp has constructed entire albums from the clipping beats of damaged CDs. The tracks on Dok (Thrill Jockey) are tender, haunting daymares — jittery fragments, painfully familiar, yet just out of reach, like a conversation heard through water-logged ears. Reportedly, much of the source material for Dok, credited as “a soundfile exchange between Oval and Christophe Charles,” comes from the recordings of bells. No matter the provenance of his samples, Popp’s music eeks a stylish, downbeat urban impressionism out of the sparest materials. It’s worth noting the lovely Dok package: the disc is decorated with programming gibberish, the antiseptic song titles (“polygon medpack,” “vitra desk”) pop up like decoded messages, and the album cover suggests the blueprint for some peculiar experiment. Exactly what Oval is.
Month: November 1997
At this date, a symphony is simply a lengthy non-vocal composition. This one, Francis Dhomont‘s Frankenstein Symphony (Asphodel/Sombient), is stitched together from samples of music by 22 friends and students of the composer (or is it composter?). Despite the remote provenance of the source material (mostly by fellow Canadian experimentalists), this Frankenstein really comes to life. Dhomont’s affection for his sources enriches the subtle parallels, montages, and colocations that comprise the four movements.
Holmes Nostalgic for Deadly NYC
Jamiroquai revels in updating Stevie Wonder’s tongue-twisting urban lyricism. But leave it to Belfast native David Holmes, on Lets Get Killed (1200/A&M), to milk an entire album from Wonder’s song “Living for the City.” Meshing funky, shifty drum’n’bass grooves with taped street talk (cab drivers, drug dealers, asphalt astrologers, and other chatty Manhattanites), Lets Get Killed is Holmes’ sonic inner-city diary of the time he spent living in N.Y.C. Like the quasi-documentary photography of Nan Goldin and Jim Goldberg, the album simultaneously romanticizes its subjects and keeps their filth at a voyeuristic distance. For balance, an addictive, if simplistic, reworking of James Bond themes mocks the seriousness of Holmes’ sonic undercover work. And the distinctive addition of rock instruments on some cuts truly distinguishes Holmes’ compositions, and his aspirations.