I rang in 2010 at an intimate yet rowdy house party outside of Guelph, complete with dining room dancefloor. Sometime after 12.30 I plugged my iPod into the stereo and let ‘Feed the Animals’ play. Every person in that party came up to ask me what the hell it was, and where they could get it. Every single person was equally stunned when I told them they could have it for nothing through the artist’s website.
‘Feed the Animals’ took my previously held beliefs on what a mashup should be, punched them in the ass and kicked them out of the party. So many mashups form a contract with the listener, they want to unify the disparate elements of the track into a new cohesive whole (think Danger Mouse’s Jay-Z vs. Beatles ‘Grey Album’). Gillis has no time for high concept, and clearly thinks it’s too big a buzzkill when you’re trying to dance. And this is acceptable. His projects are A-D-D pastiches, banging bouillabaisse of samples, all recognizable yet recontextualized, and never lasting more than 90 seconds. The point isn’t to flaunt his turntable wizardry, or to marvel at his skill as a beat-flipper: he just wants you to dance, and to cock your head when the next movement starts thinking, ‘is this really happening right now?’.
But you’re visual people, I know. So check this attempt by the infographic artists at Fast Company magazine to chart the samples used on Girl Talk’s latest album, ‘All Day.’
While ‘All Day’ is a worthy entry into to your party playlist, how much you enjoy it depends on where your entry point to Gillis’s work is. If you’ve never heard him before, this album will probably blow your mind like FTA did mine. But as someone who knew what to expect, I found I didn’t enjoy AD as much as his previous effort. ‘All Day’ isn’t as much of a party record as its predecessor, it lacks some of the percussive urgency that propelled ‘Feed the Animals’ along so relentlessly.
And that’s fine, the last forty years of recorded music is certainly deep enough to support infinite permutations, and Gillis has a knowledge deep enough to ensure he never repeats himself. ‘All Day’ finds him widening his sonic net, which makes for a less party-centric record, but arguably a more interesting one. Was anyone missing a Toadies/B.o.B. collaboration? Would it even occur to anyone to think of it? No, and that’s the value of any GT project, seeing how these connections form in an encyclopedic mind.
See for yourself. You can download ‘All Day’, cheap as free, on the Illegal Art website. Or, you can hear my favorite movement from all day right now.