MR OIZO: Musical Mr. Brainwash?

French electronic musician Mr. Oizo’s album Stade 2, scheduled for release on November 28th, has been called his most eccentric work to date. But is it really an avant-garde accomplishment at the level of the musical equivalent of a Mr. Brainwash-style work? Hyper-meta irony’s complexities and stupidities certainly strike again here.

Words: Anna Graizbord

Off the bat, I’ll admit that, save for M83 (if that even counts), I’m by no means a fan of European electronic music or its general subsequent “scene”. The only prior point of reference I had for Mr. Oizo was his 1999 hit and Levi’s commercial “Flat Beat” featuring “Flat Eric”, a yellow puppet office executive with a disconcerting amount of authority. Mr. Oizo’s body of work has largely been characterized by the sort of borderline-irritating repetition and organic/synthetic sound meshing found in “Flat Beat” such that Mr. Oizo has been considered almost in a class or genre of his own. Certainly, Stade 2 is a testament to Mr. Oizo truly being inside his own world, if not a little up his own ass.

The tracks that most set Stade 2 apart from Mr. Oizo’s earlier work are the more aggressively dissonant and virtually un-danceable ones like “Edn” (ironically standing for “Everybody Dance Now”), which, from what I can tell, is just a random sampling of noises; “Chiffon”, a nightmarish blend of obnoxious car horn-like sounds; and “Pruide”, another irritatingly loud and repetitive noise fest, with seemingly no point or end in sight. Hard to believe none of these tracks clock in any longer than 3 and 1/2 minutes. I think what’s most confusing about these tracks is that you can’t tell if Mr. Oizo is purposely trying to annoy the shit out of you for some higher purpose, that goes completely over your head (or my head, at least), or if he just has a very particular taste in what constitutes as “enjoyable” or “cute”—akin to the Amelie appeal debate. I suspect that perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

Mr. Oizo must have some sense of humor about himself and his fans, though (right?), if “Douche Beat” is any indication—a track interspersed with an electronic robot voice, declaring itself to be “a beat for the douches”. Even if he is, simultaneously, embracing the label while poking fun at it, there’s a certain “Wild and Crazy Guys” element about it all—like he’s just learned about this word for the first time and simply can’t wait to show our “big American breasts” how savvy and “with it” he is. All of my snarkiness and grandma-like “what is this noise?” observations aside, there were tracks that really hit the mark for me, like the eponymous “Stade 2” and “Datsun” which almost sound like something Moloko would’ve produced minus Roisin Murphy, and “SKA”, a track very reminiscent of the Sugarcubes, again, minus their female vocalist.

It’s hard to tell if Stade 2 is a cheeky joke from a guy who, either has a sense of humor about himself and his scene, or who knows there’s a joke on some level somewhere, but fails to actually grasp what the actual humor is or has any real self-awareness. Perhaps reading too much into it is where I’m going wrong? Maybe Mr. Oizo is just trying a bunch of different shit out to see what sticks. Whatever the case may be, I’m now a bit curious to see what he’ll do next.

Watch Mr. Oizo’s NonFilm, circa 2001 below.

Follow Mr. Oizo on Twitter, @Oizo3000

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