Matt on Music: Sufjan Stevens and Girl Talk

Serengeti, Sufjan Stevens and Son Lux first collaborated on the fine 2012 EP “Beak & Claw,” credited as s / s / s. They’ve since changed their name to Sisyphus and recently released their first LP.

Gregg Gillis is a mashup artist who goes by the name Girl Talk. He has released several terrific albums, most recently 2010’s “All Day.” His latest release is a collaboration with rapper Freeway, where he steps back from the role of mashup creator and into the role of producer.

Sisyphus: “Sisyphus” (Asthmatic Kitty)

The move from Anticon, where most of Serengeti’s work has been released, to Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty label means a lot less than you would think. The fact that supposed Serengeti fans are criticizing songs like “Booty Call” and “My Oh My” for being funny says a lot more. After all, Serengeti’s strength isn’t just as a storyteller. “Dennehy” was one of the best hip-hop albums of the 2000s because it was hilarious, and I can do without another “Saal.” It’s also easy to criticize Stevens for being even blander than usual, but I’m personally glad. Here, he uses his voice the same way Brian Eno did on “Another Green World,” as a delicate instrument to assist the ambient production. By doing this, he allows the true talent to shine. No wonder Pitchfork hates this more than Stevens’ other work. It’s the one album where he doesn’t pretend to be a genius.
Grade: A MINUS

Girl Talk / Freeway: “Broken Ankles EP” (self-released)

I can fully get behind Girl Talk collaborating with an actual rapper, because it’s a perfect way to show up the white dudes who dig his music despite claiming to hate hip-hop—his worst kind of fans. But this is quite dull, and the problem strangely isn’t Freeway, who exhibits plenty of personality and makes the best of these tracks. The problem is Gregg Gillis himself who, despite being the master of mashups, seems quite reserved here. Thankfully, it’s only 18 minutes long.
Grade: B


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