Label of the Month: The EDM Pioneers Behind Ghostly International

Ghostly International

Welcome to our Label of the Month feature, where we'll expound on some of our favorite music manufacturing companies, the folks that help mold the entire picture for amazing artists and shoot those ideas out into the world. This month, we're aiming our sights on Ghostly International, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based label known for consistently challenging the idea of what we call electronic music.

See also:

-River Jones Music Adds Five Bands to Roster; Here's Our Breakdown
-Cassette County: Three Local Cassette Labels
-Hydra Head Records: A Personal Recollection

Ghostly is everything a label should be and then some, describing itself as a "multi-platform cultural curator, a tightly knit aesthetic universe fulfilling the roles of art gallery, design house, clothing designer, technology innovator, music-publishing company--and, yes, record label--in one." Naturally, design-driven personalities like Matthew Dear, Com Truise and Tycho fit in nicely in this arena, but it's also home to many other pioneers in the realm of genre-bending tunes. Here's a small sampling.


Everyone must like Phantogram, given how often I hear "When I'm Small" in hipster hangouts and dozens of TV spots, but they have other songs, too (surprise!). "As Far As I Can See" definitely channels that hip-hop infused chimes apparent in Purity Ring or Cults, but there are multitudes of unique impressions on 2009's Eyelid Movies. "Let Me Go" feels like a long lost Nujabes track and with that choked-up warble on "Running From The Cops," it feels a bit like being dragged into the underworld in Minority Report.

Outkast rapper Big Boi is also a fan of vocalist Sarah Barthel's talents - she contributed three tracks on last year's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. I have two words for that: Fuck. Yes.

Kill Memory Crash

If Phantogram is too light for you, take a hit off this dark bong. Summed up in one word, Kill Memory Crash would be "sinister." Imagine if Trent Reznor dropped some MDMA and stopped whining about self-destruction (love ya anyway, Trent).

These nods to '80s clubs, drilling bass and Gothic overtones (minus the makeup) can make a song like "Hit + Run" really feel like getting crushed by someone's black Cadillac and dragged a few blocks. But if you'd rather dance, Kill's issues on Spectral Sound (an off-shoot of Ghostly) are more friendly, but not by much.

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