Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Johannes Kreidler - product placements

Johannes Kreidler
product placements


Released 2008 on self-released
Reviewed by Logan KY, 13/07/2010ce


When Brahms did it, it was art. When Negativland did it, it was funny. (And when 2 Live Crew did it to Roy Orbison, in a way, it was artfully funny.) But when Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis plunders the entirety of recorded popular music and emerges with the perfect riff x to complement just the right lick y, somehow it’s borderline illegal calculus.

What your Modernist grandpa experimented with as “allusion” and your postmodern old man extolled as “pastiche,” the idea of the sample has peppered intelligent discourse since the last fin de siècle. And just as your kids won’t know a time without DRM, Auto-Tune, or reality television, the actual practice of sampling—for anyone post-Big Audio Dynamite at least—has always been around. Ever the fetishists, we’ve erected monuments to the masterpieces (Endtroducing ['96]), incinerated the duds (Vanilla Ice, Mariah Carey, et al.) and rushed with a scribe’s haste to compile those we fear posterity just won’t understand (Steinski’s recently released What Does It All Mean?).

Enter, stage richtig, German composer Johannes Kreidler. Depending on which music/IT nerd you read, there are between 260 and 300 noticeably sampled songs that constitute Girl Talk’s latest name-your-own-pricer Feed The Animals. On Herr Kreidler’s newest single “product placements” there are precisely 70,200. And in a laborious (i.e. hilarious) coup, each sample is fully registered, on paper, with Germany’s überstrict licensing agency Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA for short; imagine a disgruntled wing of ASCAP or a guerrilla faction of BMI). But wait, here’s the real punchline: Kreidler’s “Product Placement” is only 33 seconds long.

With roughly 2,127 samples every second, it’s a cognitive mess indeed. Akin to a too eager turn of a shortwave radio dial, you will not hear snippets of your favorite Flo Rida jam here or an obscure Yo La Tengo WFMU broadcast there. Boiled down beyond the marrow, Kreidler’s piece—in all its aphoristic and conceptual beauty—exists as pure, unadulterated digital information. And regardless of its legality, the message inherent in that information is more than clear: the sample has become this generation’s guitar.


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