Mr. Oizo & Gaspard Auge Mr. Oizo & Gaspard AugeRubber
“Rubber”, the second film by Quentin Dupieux— Mr. Oizo to his enemies—stars a tyre named Robert, who comes to life, discovers that he has telepathic powers, and one fine day decides to kill every creature that crosses his rubbery path. We might like the idea more or less—if you ask me, I know a few stoners who can come up with something better than that in a simple two-minute brainstorming exercise, to tell you the truth—but it’s true that this whimsical idea that’s got a lot of people going on the indie scene and, what concerns us here, it also gave rise to this soundtrack by Oizo himself, along with Gaspard Augé, the member of Justice who’s like Weird Al Yankovic. Although as a filmmaker, I couldn’t care much less about Dupieux’s career, I have to admit that as a musical producer, he has always seemed to me to be a brain to be reckoned with. A little warped, but one to be reckoned with. Stereotypes of Flat Eric, Levis, and all that crap apart, the Frenchman has always shown a sweet, inspired, danceable schizophrenia that has led him to become an unpredictable creative reef, far from the more obvious currents of French dance music.
For this reason, we can’t treat this soundtrack with the same cavalier lightness that we could the story about the tyre. When this man gets into the studio, he is capable of the best, the worst, and everything in between, and one is always curious to see what he’s got up to now. In this sense, “Rubber” isn’t very disappointing, as it combines purely danceable pulsations with an Ed Banger air and a Justice armpit, with your fill of symphonic synthesisers, pianos, and woodwinds, in what seems like a mad race of accelerations, trippy rests, and 70’s kitsch retro-passion and romanticism. The most frenetic moments are summarised in “Le Caoutchouc” –it seems like the Scan X of the 90’s– and “Rubber”, an accelerated collage of beats, synthesisers, samples, patches, and thundering sounds that sound as if someone had given Ace Ventura a QBase and two grams of Peruvian coke. There are electro sequences that also have a notable drive. “Trycicle Express” sounds like Daft Punk mixed with the Queen of “Flash Gordon” –the shower of keyboards is really heavy, and the beat box is pure Kraftwerk. “Room 16” follows the same line of abuse of the synthesiser, an electronic beat, clavichord, and pan flute. They are cuts whose atmosphere keeps a precarious balance between trippy witticism and new age delirium.
But it is surely in the passages without beats where the absurdity created by Dupieux and Augé is most relevant, and the album shows its more kitsch side. “Racket”, with its flute and piano in Richard Clayderman style, is pure elevator music. “Crows & Guts” is more of the same, two minutes that are of no use at all except for listening to the player piano and a woodwind section that sounds like it was taken from a nursery school music class. “No Reason” reaches such a height of 70’s mannerism that it seems to have been taken from a film belonging to Jess Franco’s worst period. And so on all the time. “Rubber” is a disturbing, disconcerting, tripolar, decadent, kitsch, cheesy, modern, absurd, and decidedly anecdotal soundtrack: the perfect anti-symphony for a film whose action hero is a stinking tyre. They say that Bibendum blew his brains out after seeing it.