A term once heralding "Oh, no he DI'IN'T!" hysterics and sentences ending with, "And then my period started," you can't call yourself a purebred offspring of the 80's-through-The Aughts if the term doesn't now refer to and conjure up images of the cuh-raaaaziest dance party you've ever been to, bro. Soaked in a crop sprinkler of sweat, beaded bliss floating in slow-mo from forehead to navel, slicing through fog machines like bullets through a gelatin mold on CSI: Wherever, arms and legs akimbo, jaws slack, bodies flailing improbably; an angry mob galvanized and surging toward a certain sort of millennial nirvana. Pump those fists, Jersey kids, you're not alone. In fact, all the Christians in da house may as well dust the cobwebs off their junior high-era ska-nking and get that knee bent and swinging to puncture the kidneys of the guy in front of you. There's no judgment here. This is a Girl Talk show.
Shimmy shimmy y'all, shimmy yay.
The wizard grinning in the glow of this hipster cauldron is none other than Gregg Gillis, former bio-chem-science-guy (I'm about as foggy on the details as the machine-cranked swirls of the stuff at one of his booty-shaking live shows) turned mix maestro and all-around mashup hero. With a medieval flourish recalling a trio of Macbethian witches pontificating about the merits of poisoned entrails, Gillis hurls disparate ingredients together and watches the sparks fly. Lil' Kim and The Jackson 5? Child's play. When was the last time you felt compelled to get down to Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia"? Drop it low, y'all. Because that just happened. And you know what else? There's a whole lot more where that came from.
If Night Ripper was about the novelty or the "Wait, wait, don't tell me!" nature of its particular alchemy, and Feed the Animals demonstrated how a song deconstructed and cobbled back together was its own kind of songwriting, then Girl Talk's latest All Day is surely his party album. Rather than crafting a melange of pop culture confetti and squirting the whole thing with Elmer's glue or using samples as instrumental framework in a proper (recycled) pop song, All Day is meant to be listened to on the whole. Its track divisions are incidental because what's contained within its 70+ minute run time is an extended paragraph whose central premise, I suspect, hinges upon the unadulterated joy music imparts to its audience. "Hear that? I love that song!"
And you'll find a lot to love; unlike the frenetic pace of Feed the Animals, All Day slows the sampling sprint to a shuffle, allowing an entire verse and subsequent chorus to unfurl while the undergirding beat keeps the tempo at a gleefully muscular clip. It allows the mind to freak the ampersand-dollar-plus sign out as soon as Skee-lo starts dishing on his love life and by the time the hips have caught up and are ready to vibrate, we're all screaming that we wish we were a little bit taller. Sure, perhaps Girl Talk lets the girls talk a little too long about how you really (really) shoulda put a ring on it, but you can't blame the man for trusting his inner wedding DJ and giving the guests what they really (really) want.
There's the 2:55 mark on "This Is The Remix" when the Toadies are wailing, "Doooo you wanna diiiiie?" Or at one minute ten on "That's Right" when we get our long-awaited Lloyd Dobler moment and we thrust those invisible boomboxes at the proverbial bedroom window. When Peter Gabriel wants to touch the light, the heat in those eyes, you not only believe it, you feel it. And you want it, too. Gillis takes nostalgia's pesky fixations and distracts them with auditory catharsis, deftly appealing to both a spastic generational attention span and our utterly maudlin obsession with the past. In other words, it's the best of both worlds. In the same way that memory works in fluid, overlapping fits and starts, so does Girl Talk's cultural pastiche. The minute I'm reminded of a particular song, the flood is unleashed for a million infinitesimal affiliations to build on one another and before I know it, I'm neck-deep in a Facebook rabbit trail through the past and wow, beer has not treated my childhood classmates well.
Sound familiar? Now slap a dance beat on it. Add auxiliary effects like smoke and mirrors. Blacken the room and toss those inhibitions in the trash can along with that Aquafina bottle of vodka you tried to sneak past security. Everybody dance now.
It's a spectacularly unifying experience, an entire room of divergent people congealing into a thumping, throbbing heartbeat the second Bruce Springsteen hollers from the speakers, "You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark! This gun's for hire, even if we're just dancing in the dark!"
Let's say Gregg Gillis is that spark.