REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Mr. Oizo discards the yellow dish-cloth

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

The French-electro pioneer assembles a welcome best-of, yet interestingly omits his biggest track.

Oh, the yellow puppet guy? What’s he up to now?

A fair enough question one might think, but for those in the know about Mr Oizo, since his commercial breakthrough with ‘Flat Beat’ in 1999, there has been a steady stream of multi-platform forward-thinking nonsense.

The secretive Quentin Dupieux, though now out of the mainstream spotlight, has had a prolific career, turning his hand to directing and producing movies, DJing, soundtracks, and of course treating us to his unique brand of quirky electro.

It’s a joy then that he has finally furnished us with a best-of collection.

After four albums and numerous films and side projects, there’s a lot to delve into, so at 21 tracks the newly re-mastered ‘Wrong Cops (Best Of)’ is by far the best introduction to the past 15 years of his work.

The release coincides with his fifth movie, ‘Wrong Cops’, acting as more of a companion piece than a strict soundtrack. There is such a wealth of diversity here in fact that this best-of could probably soundtrack a dozen films quite happily.

The music, though disparate and non-sequiturial, is consistent in its humour, repetition, unannounced key changes, dramatic pauses, and abundance of computer-generated noises, sound effects and glitchy electronica. It’s relentless techno, peppered with the kind of melodies produced when a cat walks across a piano.

You can hear a strong cross-pollination of other notable French acts. ‘WC’ recalls 'Cross'-era Justice, a band whose noise-cascades he undoubtedly influenced. In fact, Gaspard Augé appears on ‘Crows and Guts’ and ‘Polocaust’, his input (prog chords, flute solos and brooding bass) instantly recognisable.

That’s not the only notable cameo here either – the prince of dark things, Marilyn Manson’s mangled vocal talents appear on ‘Solid’, while Sébastien Tellier features on 'Stunt'.

Oizo’s trademark hit ‘Flat Beat’ is sadly absent from this compilation. Likely this is due to a creative decision about its suitability for the film, but it does come as a bit of a kick in the teeth for casual fans who might only be interested in buying the album for that track.

One feels that this might just be his trademark humour coming through, but after digesting everything I could agree that the anticipation of said song’s arrival may act as an unwelcome distraction, counter-intuitively allowing the rest of the album to shine on a level playing field.

There’s a lot to make you laugh, too. The faux-funk of ‘Cut Dick’ with its slap riff and synth-sax is a joy, like the guilty pleasure one gets from genuinely loving Casio keyboard demos. If bodily fluids are your thing, then checkout ‘De Luca’.

On the whole, the tracks never outstay their welcome, allowing the joke to remain thickly spread. Though it may not be a joke at all.

Far from being novelty, it's excellent. Not at all tongue-in-cheek, but simple, plain fun. ‘Fun’ music can often be disregarded by snobs as lacking genuineness, but isn’t a bit of fun what the world really needs?

‘Wrong Cops (Best Of)' is weird, confusing, and brilliant. The lack of belting dance anthems hinders its ascension to the pantheon of truly great dance compilations, but in terms of finding an act with an irreplaceable personality, look no further.

‘Wrong Cops (Best Of)’ is released February 24th 2014 via Ed Banger Records/Because Music.