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Reviews

Mr Oizo
Lambs Anger Iain Moffat , January 29th, 2009 09:00

To get the inevitable questions out of the way first, yes, there's a whole lot of juddering going on here, and yes, Flat Eric does get a brief cameo midway through, but, no, there's nothing that's likely to be enlivening an ad break near you any time soon. After all, the mainstream has shifted mammothly since the demented pre-millennial heyday of 'Flat Beat', a single that would surely be the most downright weird number one ever had it not been so swiftly followed by 'Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen' and 'The Millennium Prayer'. Still, you could argue that these are somewhat salad days for French disko - Justice are clearly the latest principal additions to the technoscenti, there are all kinds of Gallic noises wending their way worldwide (DJ Mujava's powerhouse 'Township Funk', for example, fits neatly on top of Laurent Garnier's 'Flashback', while Pacific!'s Scandinavian roots are scarcely visible), and even the must-see dance act of the age are the Kraftwerk-with-decks phenomenon Birdy Nam Nam - so perhaps this shouldn't seem too absurd at all.

Mind you, the brilliance of Quentin "Mr Oizo" Dupieux was always that he had a very fine line in performing what our American readers might have referred to as intelligent dance music in a deliciously stupid fashion, and, despite some seven distance, that's not altered in the slightest. The tracklisting alone here is repeatedly rather puerile, and, needless to say, it's the most egregious examples that catch the eye first, so it's fortunate that the quality control's so firmly in place there. 'Cut Dick' engages in all sorts of funk contortions, employing some splendidly synthetic guitar and incongruous sax somewhat reminiscent of mid-90s curio 'How Gee'. 'Gay Dentists' plies C&C Music Factory with some illicit widescreen concoction and lets them loose on an intermittently-malfunctioning dodgem ride, and the thoroughly remarkable 'Bruce Willis Is Dead', while clearly in hock to the idiosyncrasies of Benelux rave circa '92, employs the fantastic deadpan nihilism found on some of the finest proto-jungle and intimidates with its sheer claustrophobic enormity and disarmingly sinister collapse.

Elsewhere, too, there's considerable genre-hopping of the little-bit-woo, little-bit-way, little-bit-woooaaaAAAAAHHHH! variety. 'Two Takes It' is probably the most commercial endeavour here, rewiring Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's 'It Takes Two' in a fashion that, on the whole, Yo! Majesty would most likely approve of, while, by contrast, 'Erreur Jean' has a turn-of-the-century Warpish subterranean smartness, and Uffie gets to give her best Peaches over some throbbing minimalism on 'Steroids'. Furthermore, the amazing 'Z' sounds like nothing so much as 808 State having a ham-fistedly bravura first skiing lesson, the grand finale 'Blind Concerto' is a starbursting hectic flail of a tune at permanent risk of disfiguring implosion and, best of all, 'Positif' is a staggering piece of work, combining the wonderful wasp-under-the-eyelid episodic euphoria of, say, Vitalic's 'La Rock 01' or Fake Blood's 'Mars' with an 808 being used as a pinata while succumbing to car crash static interruptions. 'Lambs Anger' is by no means the album that's going to return Mr Oizo to the top flight, but his fuzzy logic makes a fascinating sense of its own regardless.

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