The French producer of the grotesque, Mr. Oizo (pronounced Wahzo) has been around for about 15 years, but many people may have first encountered him last week, with the release of the music video for “Ham”, starring John C. Reilly. That video, directed by Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric, starts out as an extremely on-the-nose parody of Black Friday, but by refusing to let up on the gas, Wareheim manages to bring it to an interesting climax in the form of a Mexican Standoff, a la The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The video is at once strange, annoying, compelling, and obvious, which makes it a perfect vehicle for Mr. Oizo’s music. His new album, The Church, is his first for Brainfeeder, but it’s very much in tune with his methods for the past decade, taking the electronic sounds of the moment—in this case, trap, post-dubstep, and electro—and warping them in a fun-house mirror. Oizo, whose real name is Quentin Dupieux, has been compared to his fellow Frenchmen, Justice, many times in the past, and there’s definitely something there. But his music also bears thinking about in relation to newer artists; now that PC Music has emerged, Oizo almost feels like a long-standing, supervillianous nemesis to that candy-brite collective.
Does that mean that Dupieux has long been ahead of his time? Certainly. His music exists to disturb the natural state of things; he makes use of the dissonance of Inga Copeland but substitutes her icy cool for off-the-wall juvenilia. His love of the puerile is probably the most obvious element of his sound. Take “Dry Run”, which, though it bears some resemblance to “Turn Down for What”, substitutes that ubiquitous mantra with the goofy-voiced and terrifying plea to “scream for daddy.”
This kind of cartoonish menace appears many times throughout The Church. “Mass Doom”, a standout here, could soundtrack “Adventure Time” if the show were produced by the Joker—a sense of foreboding lurks within its impossibly cartoonish sound effects. “iSoap'”s got a nice groove which soon gets torn apart by a brassy loop plaguing you with its endless repetition like water torture.
The best tracks on the record are the ones confident enough to place their weirdness in the foreground. With the bizarro trap of “Bear Biscuit” (which even includes some DJ Rashad-like sampling at its tail) and the straightforward thump of “Ham”, Dupieux seems to put all his cards on the table and the result are the two most compelling songs on the record.
But what’s most frustrating about Mr. Oizo is that, despite all his rule-breaking, his songs quickly start to feel shallow, as if he’s run out of ideas. “Memorex”, the shortest song on the record, is one loop and a squeaker for the entirety of its running time, and once you get over their more irritating aspects, most of the songs here feel just that simple.
Then again, striving for anticlimax is a form of the avant garde. The title track ends the record, and when cloaked in words, Mr. Oizo’s aimless clowning becomes explicit. The song tells the story of a group of friends who get bored and steal cars. Many times throughout the song, it feels as if the group will do something terrible, particularly when the music drops and they go to the church. But nothing especially violent happens. The track is all suggestion. Despite the genuine fear that Oizo manages to build-up with this and other tracks on The Church, he does it all through the power of suggestion. Nothing ever really happens.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1tPGeCG