CMJ Madness: The Knife So Good It Hurt, Girl Talk So Bad We're Pissed

November 2, 2006 6:07 PM ET

The two faces of electronica showed themselves last night with two dramatically different CMJ shows: One, a cinematic performance from Swedish duo The Knife at NYC's Webster Hall; The other, a sweaty, full-on dance party courtesy of mash-up/raver Girl Talk at Mercury Lounge.

Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson of brother-sister duo the Knife seemed intent on creating an aura of drama for their first-ever U.S. show: between the masks they wore and the hazy light the stage was bathed in, the pair appeared supernaturally removed from the throng of fans, who shrieked before every ambient intro. Formed in the late Nineties but only now getting their due Stateside, the Knife — with their Radiohead-pulses and Anderssons's Bjork-like vocals — could easily have been the token art-rock outfit during the Ibiza dance party heyday. Today they are in a field of their own, creating some of the most original lounge-electronica out there.

The same cannot be said of Girl Talk, the indie laptop gimmick that is DJ Gregg Gillis. The most impressive thing about Gillis' hour-long set was that he managed to get everyone in the audience on stage to dance while splicing together songs reminiscent of that one Spring Break trip to Cancun we've been trying for years to forget about. After the hype Gillis spawned with his genius mash-up album, Night Ripper, his live set was a genuine disappointment.

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