94 Diskont arguably did for music what Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon did for art: contributed to artist evolution using the established traditions of the medium and smashing it all to pieces. In an era when most musicians reach decades back to rummage through the classics vaults for inspiration, 94 Diskont comes off as a refreshingly forward-thinking album that doesn't quite abandon the electronic music of yesteryear, but rather turns it on its head in previously unimaginable ways. Oval's method of making music involves manually marring compact discs (with paint, magic marker, nails...) and piecing the damaged sounds together so that the resultant outcome is a dizzying sonic stew of clicks, scratches, and fragmented melodies. His previous album, Systemisch, was a fine work of electronic minimalism, but on 94 Diskont those shards have coalesced into actual songs with increased depth and complexity.
What's so remarkable about 94 Diskont is that pure technical and theoretical innovation is here used to create something that's both intriguing and beautiful (as opposed to the pop culture-driven skipping frenzies of John Oswald). "Do While" is the album's centerpiece track: a thick, meditative piece that doesn't grow weary over its ambitious 24 minutes. Shimmering bells crackle over a hazy, four-note organ drone-the musical equivalent of sleepless exhaustion or swimming through tranquil water. Other standout tracks include the bottom-heavy, menacing "Commerce Server" and "Shop in Store," whose manic, stuttering wails bring to mind a warped superhero theme.
Uncompromising though it may be, 94 Diskont reveals itself to be more accessible with subsequent listens; the warm, gooey textures of "Do While" and "Cross Selling" effortlessly pull the listener in, and even the colder songs are stunningly provocative. If the album is difficult in its scope and methodology, it's also one that reveals no influences and takes many risks, augmented by a keen sense of melody and songcraft. If ever a case had to be made that an odd musical approach can be aesthetically enjoyable, or that an album can transform into something far greater than the sum of its parts, 94 Diskont may be all the proof you need.