Photo: Jordan Harris. Used on CDM by permission.

Yes, for the record, that is a young woman screaming to the sounds of AudioMulch. Believe.

Jordan Harris was able to snag some screenshots of Girl Talk’s rig. There’s not much to tell: a laptop, a mouse, and in a sign of the growing stature of Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis), some very practical plastic wrap to protect the machine. What’s unique about Gregg’s work is that this computer doesn’t clear out the room: it attracts screaming throngs of fans. Especially lady fans, proof that this does not have to be a sport for boys. (As it happens, I find they also like watching American NFL football. Poor girls; everyone is convinced they know what they want but don’t ask.)

Every music tool is supposed to have celebrity users, right? Well, AudioMulch definitely can claim Girl Talk. This $89, currently Windows-only tool (yes, Vista-compatible) has long had an underground following. It’s a real-time modular synthesis, composition, and performance tool, which you might suppose would put it in the same category as the likes of Reaktor and Max/MSP. Unlike those tools, though, its modules are laser-focused on certain sonic capabilities. There are ready-made objects for live performance control, and unique, handy tools for setting up envelopes and sequences. It’s got fantastic pre-built effects like a delay line granulator and live looper. And because AudioMulch is also a VST host, it could be your one and only environment.

AudioMulch is the software equivalent of that deceptively cute little rally car that blows more impressive-looking cars off the road.

Version 2.0 is due early next year with new features and Mac compatibility.

GearWire did a fantastic video tutorial series on AudioMulch last year.

PCs are computers that look ugly and don’t have slick ads with popular songs playing in the background. People believe they’re not used for music, but they are, often by musicians who actually play stuff life (yes, even with a mouse as a controller) rather than playing backing tracks from inside space-alien props.

Plastic wrap, according to Wikipedia,“is a thin plastic film typically used for sealing food items in containers to keep them fresh.” Going by the popular brand name Saran, the 1953 invention was not originally designed to protect computers from beer. But if you play music that people like to dance to and you typically see beer bottles around (note the unprotected shot below), it may be an important music technology accessory. Update: According to an interview, the Saran Wrap is there to protect Gregg’s laptop from .. Gregg? So, either he’s lying about the sweaty hands to sound extra awesome, or he really does have some sweat issues. I can’t say I’ve ever worried about my hands the way I’ve worried about beer. (And I tend not to have those screaming, drunken fans, even.) Hot venues? Hot laptop, powered up to full crunching audio signal? Gregg, if you’re out there, inquiring minds…

Two more photos of AudioMulch after the jump…

People who are not, as we are, fans of computer music might wonder why this chap in the tie has picked this particular spot to look for wi-fi access. Photo (CC) Tom Purves [website].

Photo: Jordan Harris. Used on CDM by permission.

Updated: more details from Jordan:

He did have one more spare latop on the table next to him, although it stayed closed the entire show.  No idea if it was the Toshiba in the other pics.  Also, the laptop in pics is a toughbook I believe.  The show was at the abercrombie holiday party at the lifestyles community pavilion here in columbus.  This is a pretty large venue with an indoor capacity of 2200.  The guy tore the place up with just a laptop and sheer force of character.  I believe there are a few videos and some pictures posted here: http://thegrip.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/girl-talk-abercrombie-fitch-2008-holiday-party-at-promowest-pavilion-in-columbus-ohio/#more-3776

There are some good shots there showing just the size of the crowd who came out to see this guy use his laptop on a cheap folding plastic table.  This was a private invite only party, but his show at the Newport Music Hall in January is already sold out. 

Live in San Francisco. Photo (CC) Matthew Hickey. Now, did this Toshiba laptop (as opposed to what I think is a Dell in the shots above) die an untimely, beer-induced death, prompting the adoption of Saran Wrap technology? Something to consider. Update: Apparently, sweaty hands were the culprit. Perhaps this is from a cool-handed evening.
  • http://www.dustincamilleri.com dc

    you buried the lead:

    audiomulch for mac!!!!!

    YAY!

  • http://mateomurphy.com Mateo

    No kidding, way to slip that in there…

    Also, dude's going to have wrist and back problems if he keeps performing like that.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    It's a way of rewarding our loyal readership who read the whole thing.

    (Ahem. I'll see what scoop I can get on the specifics of that — for instance, will it be a simultaneous release? More soon.)

  • http://www.jonbro.tk JonBro

    gregg is the coolest… the sheer force of character is really the important part of his performance, the dude could probably rock a party with nothing more than a copy of cooleditpro2000 (and I have seen him do it).

    I am glad that he blew it up :D

  • http://toilville.com peter swimm

    i need to memorize my lsdj and piggy patterns and then I dont have to look at my screen at all… joypad + midi controllers winnzzz

    Not leaning over is also a big bonus.. where are all the dj lecterns?

  • deezey

    Gregg (not Greg) Gillis may well have already gone through multiple Panasonic Toughbooks. This is his current laptop of choice for performing. He sets up the other onstage laptop just as a backup, in case of catastrophic failure. It's a mirror of the Toughbook he uses primarily. I know this because I produced a Girl Talk show in February 2008 and I got to watch him set up his rig and ask him questions about it. At that show the force of the performance and the crowd onstage broke off the legs on one side of the cheap plastic table, so the onstage crowd had to hold it up with their hands for the last quarter of the show.

    And mistakes do happen… I was at his show in Boston in 2007 where the chaos onstage caused his cables to get ripped out and his computer crashed. The crowd patiently weathered the 3 silent minutes it took to reboot, and then the party went on.

    Unfortunately, I have been very unimpressed with the stylistic choices he's been making since Night Ripper. Feed the Animals is a very unsatisfying album for me. He needs to get back to BEATS, from hip hop or dance or anywhere else, because nowadays he's trying to make these classic-rock frat-boy anthems fresh again, and it's like listening to someone kick a dead horse.

  • http://www.myspace.com/signal_automatique Kassen

    Actually, I think the mouse is rather interesting as a controller. Five or seven buttons on a modern one, two axis of high quality continuous control with a resolution that's hard to match at ten times the price in another of-the-shelf product and a rotary encoder in the form of the scroll wheel. On top of all that it will double as a tool for web-browsing at no extra cost. Just try to find that in a MIDI controller ;¬).

    I don't see why it's remarkable at all to use a tool like that as a musical interface, nor do I see why using a PC is odd; I like my computers personal.

    More remarkable IMHO is that he likes to play close to his audience. I like that; it's more intimate and under-appreciated in laptop sets. I also like that "Girl Talk" is a guy, this is funny to me as well.

    I must be strange…

  • http://scutopus.com Wendell

    "Also, dude’s going to have wrist and back problems if he keeps performing like that."

    Amen. This table with height adjustment absolutely rules: <a>Lifetime adjustable table.

    @ JonBro re: cooleditpro2000 :D I so thoroughly enjoyed that program! Never thought of it as a live tool. That's something!

  • http://scutopus.com Wendell

    Hmm, my tag for the table link didn't work. Here's the URL: http://www.buylifetime.com/Products/BLT/Tables/Ad

  • mr. tunes

    i'm not really sure how you can use audiomulch for the type of sets he does. i'd love to know more. i think he used to ableton live.

    kassen: his name comes from an 80s board game.

    jonbro: kieren hebden aka fourtet actually DOES perform his shows with cool edit pro!

  • Joshy boy

    NEW YORKER article: a couple months ago talking about laptop music

    interview with Gregg: says he uses saran wrap because "My hands just get too sweaty."

    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/200

    it's interesting to see how people try and explain computer music to the "public." it's hard to tell what people understand. For instance, the lady says about Radiohead's live incorporation of computers, "Used this way, the laptop functions as a powerful and flexible drum machine." But chances are if you are familiar with drum machines you're making music on your computer right now anyway….

  • Ron

    Gregg freaks out the entire show and he's surrounded by tons of people. He sweats like he's running a marathon. That's why the saran warp is there.

  • J. Phoenix

    I'm not surprised at all about the saran-wrap; its cheap, widely available, and functional.

    You're never going to end up in the middle of nowhere asking people "Hey, where can I find an indestructible rubber fold up wireless USB keyboard at 9:30pm? Anyone seen one in town?"

    While reading this, I couldn't help but think of Bassnectar. At several performances of his I've witnessed, catastrophic failures of his lappy meant he had to switch to CDj's and soldier on.

    Once was an overheating issue, but I believe 3 times I've seen his laptop go down because someone in the audience threw a still-full water bottle at the stage, splashing the laptop and…bip.

    At this point I believe Bassnectar has backup systems as well.

    My solution atm is to use an external LCD monitor w/ stand, shut the laptop lid, and hide it away from potential liquid penetration. So far so good.

  • John

    If you look closely at some of those screen shots the modules he has up are file players. He might be singing over the top but it's sort of like deadact! http://www.deadact.com/ mulch can be used for so much more than a file player… (That's what it looks like from the pic at least)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Of course, any hardware can fail — I've seen other gear die, too. Heck, even a guitar can break a string. But yeah, *especially* as computers are basically a commodity, I can see having a backup.

    Well, at least some people are using Audiomulch for more than just players. (it looks like he may be doing some life effects, too, though!)

  • mark

    In Audiomulch, you can access .wav files via the Loop Player module.

    Knowing Girl Talk's type of material, he's probably got a crap load of loop players uploaded onto Mulch, as well as buses/mixers to set the volume for each sample.

    Basically, he clicks the mute button on whatever sample needs to be played/stopped. When he does that, the program goes by the BPM and bars at the top of the screen to mute the sample at the precise moment.

    Maybe this video can help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfe2iJRXTdQ

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, that would be rather interesting, eh? (A sort of DIY AudioMulch-based Ableton Live?)

  • John

    @mark

    Wow, that vid really shows exactly what he is doing. So it's more of a mash up with loops of other peoples songs, hope RIAA/BMI/ASCAP don't hear it anytime soon, unless he licenses each loop. I thought he might have been using his own premade material as loops, I hadn't heard him before just the name. I'm all for sampling as long as you give credit and explain what your doing or making a parody like 2 live crew or negativland.

  • mark

    Oh, he gives credit all right:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjheil/2968758633/si

    These are the liner notes from Feed The Animals.

  • tezi

    audiomulch 2.0 is coming…

  • http://www.circuitreerecords.com pg-13

    A few things:

    Firstly, Girl Talk is know as the mash up king, using anywhere from 30 to 50 or more songs to make a new one. The way he does it is pretty damn impressive and must take a lot of time and care. Also, if you ever check out his first album or two, they are basically idm records.

    Also, Four tet uses Audiomulch live on two lap tops in a very exciting (for me atleast). Also used are 2 sp 303's and a pioneer dj mixer with fx.

    As for the plastic wrap, its definitely to stop the beers…I ve had someone fry the firewire port on my motu 828 at a show. That sucked.

  • http://www.myspace.com/liliththekitten lilith

    toughbooks are the isht. I think they (some of them anyway) have more of a cachet than Macs. I have an older one that runs all my music software just fine. (like it better than my old mac too)

    nice to see someone else running one.

    does he really need the saran wrap? The keys on these are usually waterproof. The engineering on the higher-spec toughbooks is totally nuts.

    they're not indestructible though.

  • roarkonthis

    I'm a PC!

    I also steal as much music as Microsoft steals code! how is that everyone seems to have forgotten that Microsoft "was" the evil empire?! narrowly escaped being declared a monopoly? is it because Apple became equally as obnoxious?

    <blockquote cite="">JonBro- gregg is the coolest… the sheer force of character is really the important part of his performance, the dude could probably rock a party with nothing more than a copy of cooleditpro2000 (and I have seen him do it).

    I am glad that he blew it up :D <cite>

    Really JonBro? Really? he blew it up!?

    is it really the "sheer force of his character" or the fact that he is playing the most recognizable hooks from the most popular songs of the past 40 years. I would love to see Greg(g) Gillis rock a party with nothing more than his own music! Oh wait he tried that in Pittsburgh and it didn't work so he started making mashups AND then told us he WASN'T a DJ!

    K? k.

    is he doing anything that makes the music "his"? is it actually even "his" at all if you apply his standards? is he adding vocals as is the case with hiphop? or recontextualizing obscure music? does he have a consistent theme on his albums other than it being pop music juxtaposed with another pop song with other pop songs…so he has upwards of 300 songs chopped up on his album. whoop di dee!!

    Not to forget that he is a mega-hypocrite for not allowing "commercial use" of his album. This is not so a car commercial can't use it in a TV COMMERCIAL but so people cannot make money on "his" music (and yes this includes the musicians who he sampled). It is not protected by fair use or parody. If he can use their music without paying them AND make money on it, why can't we use his? Using Gillis's logic, this seems to be equally as limiting to artists and detrimental to artistic society as standard copyright. If he is preaching free speech and fair use…why is that not the case with "his" music? That is unfair to the people.

    K? k.

    It does not surprise me that Gillis spent years working in the Pharmaceutical Industry, an Industry notorious for short patent lengths and for skirting the laws of patents to create "generic" and "affordable" drugs.

    He is also continuously disseminating misinformation through the press. (it's ok to sample up to 3 seconds, it's the same thing as the Beatles ripping off a song, etc). Even Congressman have taken to repeating his vague legal declarations. What always works in his favor is that its hard to disagree with a great party! "You don't like Girl Talk? I had such a great time at his show!"

    I propose everyone walk into their local music shop that carries "his" cd and throw down a dollar for the cost of the materials and walk out.

  • http://www.stackinpaper.com KEEB$

    @ roark, although you have some interesting points, I think you're misconstruing his intentions. He doesn't try and hide that he's playing other peoples music and act like he's some hot shot. He just came up with a great format for bringing out the good elements of popular music.

    Regarding the use of his music in TV commercials, I don't know for sure, but I suspect that his reasoning for this is actually to prevent himself from being sued, and is definitely a far cry from him not wanting other people to make money from his creativity.

  • http://wonderewereldvanbenny.blogspot.com/ Benny

    I wonder: does he licenses each loop that he uses? What will happen if our friends of the RIAA come after him?

  • roarkonthis

    we is officially sort of OT-

    @ KEEB$,

    I am not sure how creative common labelling "his" album for non "commercial use" prevents him from getting sued? how is that a "far cry" from him not wanting other people to make money "from his creativity"

    @Benny

    screw the RIAA. This copyright issue is gonna be like the housing crisis-

    blame the Labels AND the people for their greed.

  • http://www.mixarchitekt.com mix architekt

    Being an owner and avid driver of one of those cute little rally cars, that comment made my day. scooby dooby do.

  • p2b

    He is a DJ. His "product" is just a mix tape on steroids. Not that there's anything wrong with that but, he is selling a mix tape of other peoples music. I know it's 'pay what you will' and that plenty of people make mint selling mix tapes but that don't make it right. BTW that girl is screaming because she's hearing a song that she loves and she's drunk it has nothing to do with AudioMulch.

  • connor

    note to all mac/intel users, audiomulch works wonderfully under darwine.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » AudioMulch 2.0 Revealed: Mac + Windows, The Next Patching Generation

  • Steve Pittoors

    Is the whole live set in the same BPM then?

    Or would he set that manually at certain intervalls?

    How would you go about that in audiomulch?

    Thanks,

    $p

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