Postmodernity has long been eroding the borders between musical styles and different media. In popular culture, this development has given birth to a new breed of conceptual artists and jacks-of-all-trades, effortlessly moving between projects and diverse forms of cultural expression. DJ Spooky (himself one of those people) visited Sweden in the fall of 1999, talking about the increasing fluidity of what he coined "electro modern culture" and about the necessity for artists to come up with fresh ideas and find new marketing solutions to sell them. The hugely successful internet campaign for "The Blair Witch Project" springs to mind as one such unusual strategy.
Quentin Dupieux is one of those electro modern artists/entertainers and a good example of contemporary marketing. Starting out in short film, he attracted the interests of major French DJ:s and made videos for Laurent Garnier. He started playing around with samplers himself, but the career didn't kick off until a video featuring the now famous "Flat Eric" puppet found its way into the offices of Levi's.
An ad is made, media buzz follows and Dupieux retains anonymity behind his Mr Oizo artist name. But most of all the acid blurps and freaky loops are synonymous to the public as Flat Eric. No one has ever seen, or has any real interest of knowing anything about some French guy with a difficult surname. The puppet master is probably fine with that. The concept has definitely been sold, now he can relax and surf on the wave for a while.
Sadly, without puppets and fancy campaigns the music of Mr Oizo fails to mezmerize. Apart from the title track, the ragged minimalism of "Analog Worms Attack" is stuck somewhere on the way between the avant garde experimentalism of Autechre and cold, lifeless beats. Not quite danceable and not for deep listening. The quirky mutating distorted sounds do set it apart from ordinary French electronica, but I wish Dupieux would have used these sounds in a more adventurous way.
On the other hand, maybe I should give the guy a break. He has made short films, music videos, commercials and records. He's probably setting up in the fashion business, publishing a magazine and running for president right now. Damn. I wanna be post modern too...