Sorry for a third straight week of bleeps and bloops, but bear with me — this one is somewhat time-sensitive.
This is another multi-part assignment. But don’t worry — the parts are pretty small. The first part of the assignment is to watch this:
That’s the opening scene of a 2010 film called Rubber. It’s about a tire that comes to life and starts killing people with its mind. It was written and directed by French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, and it’s a better summary of his approach to art than I could ever hope to write myself. You see, in addition to making films, he also makes music under the name Mr. Oizo (pronounced ‘oiseau’, as in the French word for bird), and this week you’ll be listening to his 2008 album Lambs Anger.
If the Rubber clip and the blatant Luis Buñuel reference weren’t enough to spell it out, Dupieux deals heavily in the absurd and the surreal. His only real ‘hit’ was the 1999 track ‘Flat Beat’ — the video, directed by Dupieux, features the yellow puppet and de facto Oizo mascot Flat Eric, who graces the cover of Lambs Anger. Dupieux eventually fell in with the Ed Banger crew, a French record label and loose collective of electro producers who rose to prominence in the mid-2000s (mostly on the backs of the band Justice). His early music was already pretty left-field, but when he joined the Ed Banger roster, his sound shifted noticeably toward more club-friendly four-to-the-floor electro sounds — but his surreal sensibilities became even more pronounced.
That’s what’s so fascinating about Dupieux as a producer: he really does know how to make good dance music, but it’s always done with his tongue planted so firmly in his cheek its a wonder he can still talk. His entire career, especially since joining Ed Banger, has essentially been about taking the piss out of the genre and its fans — while still producing outstanding examples of it. His production is ridiculous to the point that it feels like he’s playing a game of chicken with the scene, seeing how far he can go and still have people call it dance music. (I love it, obviously.)
Lambs Anger is Dupieux’s first full-length release on Ed Banger, and it’s probably the best jumping-off point for really getting into the Mr. Oizo headspace. Like his films, his music has a very strong sense of continuity to it — a canon, even. Repeated phrases and hooks, synthesized speech, Uffie, some of the most obnoxious techno music you’ve ever heard — Lambs Anger has it all. It even manages at times to actually be pretty listenable. It’s even got that rarest of rarities: a good hip-hop cover. This is peak Oizo.
I’m not going to lie: this is going to be a challenging listen for you, especially given what I know of your opinion of electronic dance music. But given what I know of your taste in art more generally, I think you’ll at least be able to appreciate the ethic with which Dupieux is approaching the genre. He’s making a new pair of clothes for the emperors of EDM. He’s drawing a musical moustache on the Mona Lisa. He’s the DJ of Dada.
PS: I almost forgot the third part of your assignment! After you’ve listened to the album, head on over to http://oizo3000.com, and just experience it. If you enjoyed Lambs Anger, great! You can download his EP Stade 3 for free from the website, and it’s a good next step. If not, poke around the website anyway — according to his Twitter, he’ll be shutting the website down for good soon. It’s a damn shame.
PPS: Even if the music doesn’t speak to you in the slightest, you might still enjoy his films. The aforementioned Rubber is a good start. If the music does speak to you, I‘d suggest checking out Wrong Cops at your earliest convenience.
The fact that you chose to write about Mr Oizo brought a smile to my face, and what you said here KEPT the smile on my face. To start an introduction of Dupieux with the first scene from RUBBER is perfect: I’ve heard the director himself in interviews say that, if he could, he would append that scene to the beginning of all his films. And to finish with WRONG COPS is also perfect: among many things, it’s like the ultimate music video, because it gives context to all of the Oizo’s tracks (WRONG COPS is my favorite movie right now; I’ve watched it so many times that I’ve lost count). And I second everything you say about the album LAMBS ANGER: it contains some of his best, experimental stuff; but also it somehow manages to invite the uninitiated. When I first encountered Dupieux (in his movie WRONG, which left me spellbound and infatuated) I wasn’t a fan of anything like electronic music, house, or techno, but then the film WRONG COPS made me curious about Oizo’s musical works; and since then I’ve sought out, and learned to love, everything of his that I can find. (Sorry to ramble; I’m still in spaz mode about this.) In short: excellent piece!!