Sunday, February 3, 2008

Oval - Polygon Medpack 2.0

Oval - "Polygon Medpack 2.0"

Ever since I was in grade school, I've suffered from near-weekly headaches, almost exclusively on Mondays. Maybe the stress of preparing myself to head back after the weekend was too much for me when I was young, or maybe it was the awful air quality in our overcrowded elementary school. I don't know. It was bad enough to permanently set my body rhythms up in anticipation for my Monday migraine, which I haven't figured out how to avert since then. There's only so much I can do -- avoiding jarring car rides, bright lights, loud noises, and consuming dangerous amounts of caffeine and acetaminophen -- to hold them off, but unfortunately I don't have any control of these things when I'm away from home. Coming down from these requires a dark, quiet room, a soft bed, and no disturbances for a few hours. I realize that my case is almost nothing compared to many sufferers of real migraines, but it's an unpleasant nuisance that's interrupted my life more times than I can remember.

I usually prefer to spend these times in silence, but I've found that the right kind of music, played at a low enough volume, can be soothing and comforting in these times. Gentle ambient music of nonabrasive pulses, subtle rhythms, consistent volume and tone... this doesn't characterize much of Oval's work, but on Dok the usual destructive sound of crashing hard drives and damaged CDs is worked into something very pleasant. The skips and flips are still there, but it's never overwhelming. Check the old Thrill Jockey mail order catalogs that used to come inside all of their CDs and read the promising teaser: "[Christophe] Charles traveled the world recording bells and Markus added his special touch..." And $9 for every CD? Why did I have to be so poor back then?

The first time I listened to Dok, I'd just come home frome the record store after school. At the risk of breaking into Garfield territory, I had a throbbing headache so it was probably a Monday. I turned off the lights, put in the disc, and laid down on my bed. This was probably my first foray into the territorries of glitch or even "intelligent techno" or whatever you'd like to call it, and it was pretty mindblowing, even though I was too out of it to really appreciate it. I still remember the fractal patterns that flickered in and out below my eyelids as the second track on the disc, "Polygon Medpack 2.0," played from the other side of my bedroom. Having a dangerously hot heating pad draped across my face might have had something to do with that, too.

This is the kind of track that fans of "real music" love to hate. Completely synthetic, soulless in the randomly-generated heart of its composition, and completely unsuitable for dancing or any kind of social function. The narrative behind Oval is too nauseatingly "academic" for most people today who follow electronic music, especially on the Internet. That's right, the party never stops here. I'll always have a special place in my heart for this, even if I can't come up with any anecdotes for it that aren't completely inane. Anxiously awaiting something, anything more from Oval in 2008. Not software, music.

I didn't know the title of this track until now. Seems appropriate, but to point that out and explain why would be unforgivably hokey.

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