In the world of hip-hop, producer mashups are hardly rare. Danger Mouse first made a name for himself in 2004 with The Grey Album, which combined the verses of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with the instrumentals of The Beatles’ The White Album. Tom Caruana did the same with Magical Mystery Tour and Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), deeming it Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers. And the subgenre of plunderphonics revolves around the overlaying of samples over hip-hop verses, leading to classics like Girl Talk’s Night Ripper.
The most elaborate musical prank of this week is no doubt the Aphex Twin/Taylor Swift mashup album. The cartoonist who put Aphex Swift together put forth an astonishing amount of effort to link two totally different artists. The most shocking thing isn’t the choice of artists, however, since there are already endless examples of absurd mashups floating around the web. No, the shocking thing is that this WTF pairing is so well done.
My initial reaction is that there’s no way Aphex Swift works at all, but on several subsequent spins I have to admit that there’s something going on here. “Starlightlicker” is the song that gets the closest to working in any traditional sense, no doubt because “Windowlicker” is the closest Aphex Twin has come to any sort of pop crossover. It’s surrounded by “T4ouble” and “We Are Never Getting Girl/Boygether”, both of which pace hectic breakbeat productions from Richard D. James Album with two of Swift’s most massive pop smashes. Initially I’m convinced that these two tracks speed up the tempo on “4” and “Girl/Boy Song” because they sound impossibly complex underneath Swift’s one-line-at-a-time delivery, but on further review the tempo is unchanged. The juxtaposition serves as a vivid reminder of just how unique and unhinged each of Aphex Twin’s pseudorandom productions is.