One of the things that made me fall for Girl Talk was how doted-upon Gillis’ mushups seemed. For a while he was averaging an album every two years (if you’re reading this, Greg, my friends and I are spending the last week of August at the beach, and let’s just say we wouldn’t be sad if a new Girl Talk album was released in between now and then…), and I imagined him spending long hours in front of a laptop, working late into the night to perfect transitions and find ways to squeeze more and more music into each minute. That density — the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of musical quotations and juxtapositions — is key to my perception of Night Ripper, Feed the Animals and All Day as labors of love. They’re like candy-coated musical rainforests that fans of pop music can relish hacking through.
As much as I love this approach, I’m enjoying the Bon Iver Mashup Album for the opposite reason. Or perhaps just a seemingly opposing reason…
B.I.M.A.’s contributing producers — SpareElbowSkin, ToToM, Fissunix and Colatron — have put together a wonderful 10-track (11-, if you count the bonus track) collection, and it strikes me as fitting that the artist who became a symbol for quiet, remote-cabin contemplation would be reimagined in such a contemplative way. Vernon’s songs get single dance partners and simple arrangements, so you actually have the opportunity to think. About the pairings: Is there a deeper meaning behind placing “Beth/Rest” and “Video Games” next to one another? About the decisions that were made during B.I.M.A.’s creation: How did they decide when to keep the lyrics and when to keep the music? I love turning this stuff over in my head, and the spaciousness of these mashups makes that possible.
But this relative lack of density doesn’t make these tracks feel any less doted-upon. “Clean” and “thoughtful” are two words that bubble up when I think about B.I.M.A., and that’s not far off from my feelings about Gillis’ work. If Girl Talk is a sugary jungle, let’s call B.I.M.A. a bittersweet clearing. Or better yet, think of it like the plain that Forrest Gump was running across when he decided to turn around. Quiet. Wide-open. Worthy of a panoramic lens.
Listen to the whole thing below and click here to download for free.