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Girl Talk gets giffed

September 11, 2010

The video below appeals to me for more than one reason. For a start, the audio: it’s been too long since I heard Girl Talk’s mashup masterpiece Night Ripper, which took 2manydjs’ template for anything-goes track selection and genius splicing and went even further. The whole 41-minute record is a bit of a mission to get through, because it just does not let up, but here video artist Evan Roth has taken a choice 10-minute segment (including two absolute highlights – Nirvana’s ‘Scentless Apprentice’ versus Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy; and Notorious B.I.G. rhyming over Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’) and set it to the most appropriate visual medium imaginable: the humble gif, those seconds-long visual loops so beloved of 4chan geeks, immortalising pratfalls, cats, dance moves and Patrick Stewart’s impressive range of facial expressions. Put the mix and the visuals together and the result is quite something.

Entitled ‘Cache Rules Everything Around Me’, it’s a funny, trashy but – in its own way – sumptuous assault on the senses.

Here’s an Incoming article I wrote about Night Ripper for AU on the album’s UK/Irish release in 2008:

GIRL TALK

CUT-AND-PASTE KING INTRODUCES HIS BASTARD POP

The sleeve notes for mashup don Gregg Gillis’s third album bear only the names of 166 artists and the words “Thank You, Girl Talk.” By any measure, that’s a lot of samples to squeeze into 41 minutes of music. It’s not just the quantity that’s notable though – it’s the names. Typed alphabetically, the list runs from 2 Live Crew to Young Jeezy. So far, so hip hop. Scan further though and you’ll catch sight of everything from Abba to Aerosmith, Neutral Milk Hotel to Naughty By Nature, Sonic Youth to Salt N Pepa. The experience of listening to ‘Night Ripper’ in one sitting is akin to being bombarded with a lifetime of popular music as experienced by one American geek, aged 26.

Such is the deal with Girl Talk. Gillis has been making music under the name since 2002, but ‘Night Ripper’ is the first to make an impression outside the small mashup scene in the States. The album found huge word-of-blog buzz following its US release last year, and it finally arrives over here at the end of February. While purely sample-based albums have been done before, they either used samples obscure enough to be buried in the songs (The Avalanches), or they were more of a DJ set anyway (2 Many DJs). Girl Talk sits somewhere in the middle – Night Ripper is an album of recognisable yet uncredited samples, cobbled together to create 16 (admittedly fairly seamless) songs. “New pop from old pop,” as Gregg puts it. It’s mashup in its purest form, and it’s taken something approaching genius to pull it off.

The Pittsburgh native’s delirious love of pop music, as well as his total lack of pretension, leads to a head-spinning game of spot the sample. Gregg doesn’t care that you’ll recognise half of the samples here. In fact you sense he rather enjoys it, such as in ‘Hold Up’, where the immortal riff from the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’ stutters teasingly into view, or in ‘Summer Smoke’ where he veers straight from
Amerie’s ‘1 Thing’ to M.I.A.’s ‘Galang’. Our favourite moment? Hearing Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy’s knuckleheaded gangsta rap over the top of the bludgeoning drums and guitars of Nirvana’s Scentless Apprentice. Mighty.

And as for the legendary (and, alas, rare this side of the pond) live shows? Well, conscious of the need for some kind of visual spectacle, Gregg has garnered a reputation as something of an exhibitionist, regularly displaying his tighty-whities for all to see. “I have a party every night, and it’s just up to the audience as to how far we’re going to take it,” he sniggers.

Y-fronts at the ready then.

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