By Jonathan Fuchs, Music Director
[Ed Banger; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Freezing Out,” “Ruhe”
Mr. Oizo (pronounced “Wah-zo”) might be one of the most underrated DJs in the world of French house. More abrasive than the sounds of Daft Punk, but just as catchy as legends like Justice, Mr. Oizo exploded onto the dance scene during the 90s with his puppet character Flat Eric, a Levi’s commercial and “Flat Beat,” a staple in house music that gained attention with its colorful sound and weird, thumping bass lines.
Mr. Oizo’s past discography shows how he’s shaped his sound and vision, starting with a bouncy-house vibe with albums like Analog Worms Attack, then killing off his Flat Eric character and getting more experimental with his complex, glitchy sound on Lambs Anger, Stade 2 and The Church. With his latest All Wet, Mr. Oizo brings back Flat Eric as well as his bouncier house sound, this time adding an all-star cast of Skrillex, Charli XCX, Boys Noize and Peaches.
From the opener “Ok Then,” it seems pretty clear that the majority of All Wet is going to be a collection of two to three-minute-long tracks that carry a similar repetitive, bouncing rhythm, acting almost as a motif of the record. “Sea Horses,” the track that follows, confirms this with a slow drumbeat and an almost annoyingly repetitive sample that constantly changes in pitch, and then abruptly finishing at about right under three minutes.
There are plenty of songs that manage to save the record from feeling trapped from this sound, though. The typically sexual verses Peaches gives on “Freezing Out” makes the track fun and possibly the best song on the record, and the wonderful sampling from Oizo and Boys Noize on “Ruhe” takes a repetitive song and gives it some personality. Even the track “Hand in the Fire,” a collaboration with Charli XCX released as a standalone single last December, was completely changed from a nice, danceable groove to a grimy, deadmau5-like EDM track that’s a full-on banger, start to finish.
The album loses its focus on tracks like “Oiseaux,” “No Tony” and “The One You Buy” that act as throwaway interludes and don’t serve any purpose other than to extend the album’s runtime to an already really short 34 minutes. They cheat the listener of their time and become complete distractions from the rest of the record, not having any memorability or personality, other than to be that weird part of the record no one wants to listen to.
The problem with All Wet is not its choppiness and incomplete feel; that’s actually what a Oizo record is supposed to do. The problem is that its underwhelming. It has plenty of great tracks that challenge the average house fan or rave kid’s expectations, but is filled with forgettable fillers that don’t serve any purpose other than to be “weird.” However, when the tracks on All Wet are good, they’re really good, and remind the listener of how different Mr. Oizo is from so many other DJs today.