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Model 3, Step 2

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Album Review

Though Microstoria did not change their sound significantly for their third studio album, Model 3, Step 2 is perhaps the project's most interesting artifact. Once again, the duo of Jan St. Werner (who works with Andi Toma as Mouse on Mars and also makes solo material as Lithops) and Markus Popp (whose main focus is Oval) combine their individual sets of influences into a complex and organic whole. The sound palette here bears some resemblance to Oval's Ovalprocess, with sampled guitar fret buzz, distorted organ drones, and assorted clicks and glitches comprising the raw material. But the arrangement of these sounds is more subtle and conventionally musical than Popp on his own. At low levels, these atmospheres form an interesting blend with ambient room noise, akin to hearing an ancient apartment building settling into its girders. With sufficient volume, the wealth of sonic detail hidden in the spaces begins to reveal itself. "Glocky Bit" has warm, Eno-esque drones that are constantly being pushed aside by arrhythmic static and a faint industrial hiss. "Mem Brand" makes use of what could be samples of an African thumb piano, but contrasts this acoustic sounds with deeply abstract digital processing. Model 3, Step 2 is more varied in texture than either of Microstoria's previous two efforts, and holds up better to repeated listening. This may be a bit more challenging than standard ambient fair, but Model 3, Step 2 is definitely worth the effort.


Formed: 1994 in Düsseldorf, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Microstoria is a side project of Oval's Markus Popp and Jan St. Werner of Mouse on Mars. Combining Oval's fetish for CD scarification with MoM's odd instrumentation and breezy, subtlely inchoate arrangements, the pair's combined efforts come off much as one might expect. The group debuted with a pair of albums on the German Mille Plateaux label falling somewhere between the more engaging techno-exotica of St. Werner's main focus and the sometimes gruelling abstraction of Popp's. Both releases were...
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