When Pittsburgh DJ and erstwhile biomedical research engineer Gregg Gillis – a.k.a. Girl Talk – first started gaining notoriety for his cut and paste DJ mashups some eight years ago, the approach seemed downright ingenious; other DJ’s had haphazardly spliced together disparaging genre samples before Gillis, but not until Girl Talk had pop culture converged in such a way that allowed for the music of AC/DC, CeCe Peniston, and The Human League to so effortlessly commingle.
Five LP’s and more than a few copyright infringements later, Girl Talk’s sample-happy jams feel more like shtick than novelty, but damn if there isn’t a finer way to boogie down on a Saturday night – when you party with Girl Talk, you’re guaranteed a fairly thorough and balanced music history lesson, even as you dance with wild and reckless abandon into the wee hours of the morning.
With the release of All Day, Gillis generously extends the festivities, taking 71 minutes to adroitly and efficiently fashion a cohesive soundtrack from a palette of 373 samples that includes the likes of Belinda Carlisle, Miley Cyrus, Radiohead, and N.W.A. Girl Talk’s methods may not be much of a mystery anymore, but it’s a delight to hear how much more fluid and realized his work has become since 2006, when Night Ripper was dropped to critical acclaim and Wired magazine bestowed Gillis with a Rave Award.
Though Gillis tends to lean heavily on the ironic juxtaposition of alt-rock and gangsta rap – examples include Radiohead’s “Creep” sampled under “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and “How Low” by Ludacris competing with Phoenix’s “1901” – there’s really no genre, no radio hit, no filthy hip-hop tune (Waka Flock Flame’s “Hard in da Paint”) too obscure for it to be considered part of the Girl Talk arsenal. On “That’s Right,” we get a nifty little trio between Peter Gabriel, Foxy Brown, and Nine Inch Nails. “This Is the Remix” will have you listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecelia” with a different set of ears when it’s suffused with new lyrics “Get Low” by Lil Jon and The Ying Yang Twins. Gillis goes for another trifecta on “Get It Get It” when he meshes Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker” with Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag” and “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton.
Like much of Girl Talk’s previous work, All Day also utilizes samples so ephemeral that it likely won’t register on the listener until the moment has past. There’s a two-second excerpt of Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” embedded within “Down for the Count,” though its application is inconspicuous due to its placement between Derek and the Dominos and Flo Rida. The same is true in the aforementioned “This Is the Remix,” where a characteristic Phil Collins drum fill from “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” gets thrown in between Bananarama and The Jackson 5.
While credit is due to Gillis for giving himself more breathing room with the samples on this record, the bookends seem oddly overlong. The first couple minutes of opener “Oh No” feels like an eternity while Ozzy and Ludacris duke it out over “War Pigs” and “Move Bitch,” respectively. At the album’s other end is “Every Day,” where John Lennon’s timeless “Imagine,” is made to spar with Rich Boy, Lil Wil and Gucci Mane for more than two minutes. The irony of using one of the world’s most timeless and elegiac pleas for peace as a closing statement on such a freewheeling and boisterous collection of club tunes is not lost on Gillis, and those echoes of “the world as one” seem all the more irreverent when they’re stacked up against dudes whose albums go by names like “Yo Mamma Got a Mustache” and “Georgia’s Most Wanted.”
Operating primarily under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset, All Day is unlikely to bowl over the veteran Girl Talk fans out there. His laptop prowess (man, does that feel weird to write) has grown tremendously since 2002, but Gillis’ basic concept of music making remains unchanged. For the uninitiated though, this is essential listening for any member of the iTunes set; crafting your next playlist will likely turn into a transcendental experience after you hear how uncannily Drake goes along with Flock of Seagulls.