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Music Picks

Music Alchemy: Dodos and Girl Talk

What kind of mixing makes audio gold?

By Thom Wong 3 Jul 2008 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong is a drone in Her Majesty's Service. He writes regularly about music for The Tyee, and can be found ruminating about the state of menswear at The Sunday Best.

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Dodos' search for bona fide borrowing.

Last Thursday, I watched two young men with guitars and drums, and another young man playing, of all things, a garbage can, make more music than I've heard in a long time. I say music and not noise, but they were definitely loud, far louder than a band mainly featuring an acoustic guitar should be.

Lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Meric Long, however, is not only interested in bobbing heads, though many were bobbing that night at The Bourbon on Vancouver's Cordova Street. No, as quaint a notion as this might be in this day of reality-show pop-stars, Long is a bona fide musician, a guitar-playing alchemist, taking disparate sounds from jazz to folk to straight-up rock and mashing them together to form his own audio gold.

And percussionist Logan Kroeber plays like a man possessed by the joy of hitting things.

Girl Talk

Oddly, a recently released album that mirrors The Dodos' approach to music doesn't feature any live instrumentation at all. Even if you've never heard of Girl Talk, a.k.a. Greg Gillis, you've probably heard his songs -- each one is made up of snippets from popular music, rearranged into something new and exciting. For example, "Smash Your Head" from his recent album Night Ripper featured at least 16 samples, samples to which, it should be noted, Gillis has neglected to secure the rights.

Now Gillis has gone Radiohead on us and released his latest album, Feed the Animals, on a pay-what-you-want system. At the Illegal Art page, depending on what you're willing to pay, you can either receive a link to download MP3s, higher-quality FLAC files, or all that and an actual CD. Considering it can be had for free, and that the RIAA may soon shut him down, you have no reason not to get this album. Another reason -- it kicks colossal ass.

If nothing else, Gillis demonstrates what we all already know: that any given pop song has about 10 seconds worth of good music in it. Grab 12 such songs, and hey, you have one good song, only this way you get an entire album.

Girl Talk plays at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom on July 24, 2008.

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