Feed The Animals A -
You’re in the thick of the undulating mass, dizzy from either psychedelic drugs or perhaps just the swell of body-heat and intake of two much carbon dioxide from the huffing fellow ravers surrounding you; you close your eyes, shake your head from side to side and start feeling the urge to either hug, hump or drink – and, wait, is that Nirvana put to a techno beat? Wait, what the fuck? Roy Orbison at 190 bpm? Did Tag Team’s preposterous “Whomp There It Is” just collide with The Cranberries?
Welcome to the new dance age – where we rush the stage and cavort around the shirtless scarecrow-skater-punk hunched over his glowing lab top. The rave as morphed by the iTunes Generation, where any given dancer is armed with a personal iPod of untold gigabyte capacities.
The quick and dirty take on GirlTalk is that he is a “mash-up-artist”/DJ who pieces together 4-minute intensely layered dance tracks with downright delicious beats, piecing together clip after clip after clip of Top 40 tunes: classic rock, hip/hop, techno, dance, electronica, folk – nothing is off limits, even the most cheesiest of $1 used-bin record store pap, all maddeningly and pleasurably swathed together into forceful, flying tunes of irresistible rages where choruses rise and fall, mere measures of masterpieces pirouette like this bug-eyed New Jersey computer composer (with staggering scope of musical taste) has a history-spanning collection of mp3’s, pointing at Missy Elliott to sing 2 measures, then swinging over to The Band, or to Outkast, or to Sly and the Family Stone or Public Enemy or, yes, Nirvana. All over, all around, up and down, left right, a-b-a-start-select. Dance! Wait, Cheap Trick? Hendrix? Beats!
Often, the inclusion of some of the more embarrassing ditties serves as a somewhat painful reminder of the growing-pains-development of the listener’s musical taste. But it’s an intense and carefree ‘we can laugh about it now’ type situation, pulsed by the pounding beats and a cunning construction.
A Girl Talk release is fascinating on many levels because of the debate it causes: do these storming crowds really heed all of the songs washing over them, are they able to digest it or is it too overwhelming? Will they have clipboards out to check off Elvis Costello, or will they shrug off dancing over 20 seconds of Ghetto Superstar over Yo La Tengo. Secondly, Girl Talk’s Greg Gillis inevitably raises contempt from “real” musicians or even fellow DJ’s (who prefer vinyl) for relying on the ease and power of a lab top. Thirdly, how does a critic approach this?
Only you can answer the first. But the second—understand that Gillis is a DJ at heart and his ability as a “maximal-ist” in cramming such an intricately laid, eclectic blend of styles and sounds into one palatable dance track is commendable. Like any DJ, he is controlling emotion, just punching it up to the most hyper level, way beyond the minimalist break. Thirdly, critics…well, there comes a time when we have to consider how fun an album is…how rewarding of an experience the artist creates. This is mostly a continuation of 06’s Night Ripper, only things feel even more heart-racing demonstrated by the accelerated playbacks of vocals from the more standard entries of slower ballads. Mostly, damned if it isn’t just fun. Of Montreal? Hot Chip? Tone Loc? Ice Cube? All here together.