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    Jim O’Rourke + Oval + The Electric Company + Creedle at The Casbah

    Oval, live at Spaceland, 1998.
    Markus Popp of Oval and Jim O’Rourke at Spaceland, Los Angeles, California, 1998. Photos by Rich Jacobs.

    San Diego, California
    Friday, May 29, 1998

    It was odd enough that a rock band, Creedle, appeared on a bill with three electronic artists; and even stranger that they played at a rock club like the Casbah. The Electric Company is Brad Laner from Medicine. His stack of rack mounts and mini-disc player was topped off by a little mixing deck, which he tweaked and twiddled for some pretty messed-up results. Disjointed beats, loops, rhythms and samples appeared and disappeared like a dance club invaded by a swarm of floods and Earthquakes. Brad seemed pretty into it for a guy standing solo behind a miniature skyscraper of technology.

    For the Oval performance, I was kind of expecting to see a stack of CD players and lots of pretty, painted-on and scratched-up CDs sitting up on stage. Instead, Germany’s Markus Popp stood motionless and emotionless in front of a laptop computer and mini-disc player, which contained samples of all the damaged CDs. For 45 minutes, he point-and-clicked and tab-directed Oval’s one-of-a-kind sonic weather system through myriad electronic seasons. From spine-rumbling, low-end depth charges to pristine, bliss-out spring blossoms and a lot in between, plus Oval’s trademark digital glitching comprised of skipping CD sounds from the aformentioned damaged discs.

    Jim O’Rourke also performed on laptop, mini-disc player, electronics and segued smoothly from the end of Oval’s set into his own private universe of sampled goofy music, swing-jazz and pastoral storm/reprise electronic soundscapes. The last section was augmented with some pleasant acoustic guitar and vocal(!) melodies with heavy effects along with the electronics, which added a more familiar touch and attracted previously uninterested audience members like flies on a dead body. All in all, this night could have been a bit more visually interesting if the three “acts” would’ve played down on the floor so everyone could gather around and peek into their screens to see how the music was being made.

    Note: This article originally appeared in Lou Zine (Lou’s Records newsletter) in May 1998.

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