Flat Eric’s best mate returns with new album “Its Oizo Jim, but not as we know him”
When I was at college I watched a lot of TV. I’m not saying that I watched all the cliché daytime TV that students are meant to, far from it, I was at college during the day, but when I got in after a hard day of learning I watched a lot of Film4 (when it was good) and MTV (when it showed music, not depressing reality TV tosh). One day in between videos, an advert came on. The opening shot was of a beat up old American car driving down an American street. Then it jumped into the car. In the background was the driver, generic ‘young’ male, but in the foreground was, basically, a yellow muppet. They are cruising listen to music (a pastime I spent a lot of time doing at this period). Suddenly a police siren breaks their drive and they pull over. The muppet then changes the cassette to Don Gibson’s What’s Happened to Me, turns a picture over on a sun visor and puts a bobbly monkey on the dashboard. A motorcycle cop walks to the car and asks for their papers. The driver hands him two passports. One for him and the other for the muppet (Angel and Flat Eric). The cops asks Angel to step out of the car. Now we get the a full length view of him. He’s wearing a shirt and jeans with sharp creases in them. The cop asks for the trunk to be opened. It’s full of shirts and jeans neatly folded. Satisfied the cop lets Angel and Flat Eric go. Eric immediately changes cassettes, switches the photoback and removes the money from the dashboard. They drive of listening to music while the cop re-assesses his drab uniform, compared to Angel’s sharp, pressed shirt and jeans. They drive away and the reveal is that it was an advert for Levis. What made this advert so brilliant, wasn’t the surreal nature of the characters, or the plot, but the music.
Underpinning the whole advert was this filthy repetitive bass heavy music. The track turned out to be Flatbeat by (the then mostly unknown) Mr. Oizo (real name Quentin Dupieux). When the single was released, unsurprisingly, it went to number 1. Then as always happens with a fad, people get bored of it, and it fades away. While it appeared, to the mainstream, Mr. Oizo was a one hit wonder and vanished without a trace, to us keen eared types who long for “something a bit different” Oizo never went away.
Since his break through track he has released four albums chocked full of the laid back Hip-Hop, broken beat, surreal synth riffs, French House. Debut album Analog Worms Attack and it’s follow up Moustache (Half a Scissor) are stone cold classics that any serious music fan should own.
Right, I think I’ve delved into the past enough, what about the present. This week sees the release of his fifth album The Church on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder Records. This is classic Oizo. On previous albums, he has strayed away from his blueprint and embraced a more commercial sound. While these albums were enjoyable, there was an element of “where’s the surreal playfulness?” Luckily the Church delivers not just on this level, but its Dupieux most enjoyable album since 2005’s Moustache (Half a Scissor). The beats are harder than on previous albums, but is still accessible at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning sitting at your desk. Opening track Bear Biscuit is a statement of intent. It says “You thought I’d gone soft? I’ll show you how soft I am!” Destop is a slower and mellow track. There is a comical playfulness to it, that harkens back to Oizo’s past. It has a very lyrical keyboard part. It is one of the most immediate tracks on the album. Mass Doom is another fun track, that deserves to be played LOUD. Title track the Church closes the album. This is a story about how a group of bored friends spend a day. While isn’t fairly amusing at times, it’s the music that keeps you hooked. A psychotic hypnotic keyboard riff (reminiscent of a church organ’s) with the heavy beat, keeps changing and progressing and pulsating until the outro closed, not just the track perfectly, but the album too.
The only downside is that at times it appears that Oizo is more concerned with the dance floor than on his earlier albums. While Analog Worms Attack and Moustache (Half a Scissor) sound great played in clubs, they also sounded great at home, on headphones while you travelled to and from wherever it is you go or at parties. At times this means that the music swerves in directions that you might not initially appreciate, but after a few listens you realise this isn’t just for home consumption.