egativland’s Mark Hosler’s sales pitch for Night Ripper is “a plunderphonics party record.” It had been a while since I heard that term. Composer John Oswald coined “plunderphonics” during the mid-80s to describe the act of sampling and rearranging a recorded song or an image without asking permission from the original songwriter. His examples typically went for improvement, closer examination, or vandal humor. The style lost its notoriety over the years, though; major labels were too busy chasing Internet pirates to care about underground blokes stealing and bastardizing their properties.
Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) belongs to the post-Napster generation of plunderphonists who are more interested in sampling songs and then “clashing” them with other artists’ works. Violating copyrights and denying royalties to the sampled artists are necessities for such tomfoolery. Gillis’s previous album, Secret Diary, crammed together the bubblegum dreck of New Kids on the Block with peculiar choices like Jackson 5, Jay-Z, and Technotronic into a drunken slumber party mix that wound up on the bathroom floor with its girl passed out in the bushes. The record was not clever like Mochipet’s pairing of artists from different planets nor was it a DJ/rupture multi-cultural genre-smasher. But Gillis did deliver decent, low-fiber escapism and Night Ripper microwaves more cheap thrills.
Gillis digitally stitched together breaks and beats from well over a hundred songs that seamlessly flow throughout the 41-minute mix. Beats and raps supplied by the likes of G-Unit, Jermaine Dupri, the Ying-Tang Twins, DJ Assault, Junior Mafia, and Mobb Deep all lay in bed with snippets of the Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement, Michael McDonald, Fleetwood Mac, Britney Spears, and Sonic Youth. As such, you might imagine an utter track wreck of a mix that would fill the dancefloor with confused and irritated listeners. Gillis’ use of bombastic hip-hop, though, ensures that the beat always dominates, delivering quick amusement with bits of easy-listening schlock, oatmeal-rock, and alt-rock thrown in for a decent melody or a cheap laugh.
Ciara’s “Get on the Dance Floor” becomes a melancholic power ballad when Gillis mixes in the opening chord of Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia.” Pharrell and Gwen Stefani’s “Can I Have It Like That?” happily chugs along to Nine Inch Nails’s death-disco Objectivist tantrum “Only.” Sir Paul McCartney serenades housewives and office secretaries with the “Ayyyye loovvvvee yooooou” from Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” only to be rudely interrupted with the old Miami bass mating call of “Hey, we want some puss-say!” If X-Ray Spex’s punk call-to-arms, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” was made a response to the sexual predator pleas of the Ying-Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song),” Night Ripper would be refreshingly subversive.
Perhaps it is unfair to demand subversion from Gillis. Hosler set that expectation with his “plunderphonic” line, as if to say that Night Ripper is a defiant work of art that dares a hundred lawsuits for copyright violation. Gillis may have a complete disregard for intellectual property issues, but that doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Night Ripper is nothing more than a DJ mix with escapist fun so thick that it is unlikely that listeners will pause the record after every minute to discuss how Gillis battles tentacles of the corporate record industry’s squid. After all, what fun would that be?
Reviewed by: Cameron Macdonald
Reviewed on: 2006-06-05