Gregg Gillis has been cutting up and gluing bits and pieces of songs together as a DJ in Pittsburgh since his 2002 debut, Secret Diary, an album that, though a lot of easily identifiable samples (the Price Is Right theme, for example) were used, was so delayed and skipped and glitched that it was too obfuscated to do much in the mainstream. Such ...
Gregg Gillis has been cutting up and gluing bits and pieces of songs together as a DJ in Pittsburgh since his 2002 debut, Secret Diary, an album that, though a lot of easily identifiable samples (the Price Is Right theme, for example) were used, was so delayed and skipped and glitched that it was too obfuscated to do much in the mainstream. Such is not the case with Night Ripper, however, which, thanks to Gillis's ability to draw from a myriad of musical sources (the names of the artists used, though not their songs, are listed in alphabetical order inside the liner notes, and in fact make up the entirety of the liner notes), can appeal to anyone who's heard the radio (particularly rap radio) in the past few years. Because of the recognizability of the pieces used, Night Ripper is a good tool for showing listeners unfamiliar with the art of sampling what a talented DJ can actually do; Gillis' favorite trick on the album is to play a long vocal track, preferably something from the Ying Yang Twins or Ludacris, over rock (be it classic, indie, or grunge) beats, which he speeds up or slows down as necessary. It's pretty impressive, and at first listen, it's pretty fun. On the opener, "Once Again," Luda's "Pimpin' All Over the World" moves into the Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)" over the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," which then turns into Slim Thug's "I Ain't Heard of That" plus the acoustic guitar of Oasis's "Wonderwall," all of which ends with the Five Stairsteps' oft-sampled "O-o-h Child." Actually, "ends" is not really the right term, as the whole album works as one piece, the track titles only serving to help those more song-inclined not feel as if they are in foreign electronica territory, with its 50-minute sides and incomprehensible blips and bleeps. The thing is, this openness to pop culture, while it may increase and amuse his audience, also serves to make the album a fleeting affair. How many times do you really want to hear Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies" trade off with the 69 Boyz's "Tootsie Roll?" Or Sophie B. Hawkins mix with Panjabi MC and Better Than Ezra while the Game's vocals from "Hate It or Love It" play over? The very thing that makes Night Ripper entertaining, its basis on current hits and long pop-song breaks, is also the thing that kills it, that makes it lose its appeal after a few spins; good for one party, one car trip, one afternoon at the beach, and that's all. Which isn't to say, however, that that one hour can't be a whole lot of fun. ~ Marisa Brown, Rovi