Across two decades, Tadd Mullinix has amassed himself a veritable arsenal of aliases, exploring nearly as many styles and sounds from the willfully weird EBM he makes as Charles Manier, to the acid-inclined house and techno of JTC, or the freeform electronics released under his given name, Mullinix carves a distinctive niche with his music. But inspiration comes in waves, and the creative surge resurrected Mullinix's acclaimed hip-hop project, Dabrye, and, as might be expected from such a multifaceted producer, it also gave life to the latest alias in his arsenal: X-Altera.
The name itself reflects as much. "X-Altera references two things. It comes from Latin - ex altera - which means 'from or of the other side.' Which could be a metaphysical thing, or you could say it's jungle ethics brought into the techno world. And I spelled it this way as a reference to X-101 and X-102, the Underground Resistance project of Jeff Mills, Mike Banks, and Robert Hood." Detroit meets London, deep techno meets drum & bass, old meets new - X-Altera unites these threads in order to take them in unknown directions.
Memories - places, vacancies, allusions - are fundamental characters in Mary Lattimore's evocative craft. The Los Angeles-based harpist recorded her breakout 2016 album, At The Dam, during stops along a road trip across America, letting the serene landscapes of Joshua Tree and Marfa, Texas color her compositions. In 2018, from a restorative station - a redwood barn, nestled in the hills above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge - emanates Hundreds of Days, her second full-length LP with Ghostly International. The record sojourns between silences and speech, between microcosmic daily scenes and macrocosmic universal understandings, between being alien in promising new places and feeling torn from old native havens. It's an expansive new chapter in Lattimore's story, and an expression of mystified gratitude. A study in how ordinary components helix together to create an extraordinary world.
Dabrye is Tadd Mullinix's hip-hop wildstyle, a captivating collage inspired by the laid back vibes of midwestern hip-hop and east coast boom bap, the futuristic funk of Ummah-era Jay Dee, and the calculated subtlety of Detroit dance music. Re-issued on double vinyl for the first time, One/Three remains a concise and intriguing study in instrumental hip-hop that helps join the dots between Slum Village and the beats of today.
Made possible after a beat tape swap between Prefuse 73 and Dabrye after the pair shared the stage in Detroit, Instrmntl is a continuation of the beat experiments Tadd Mullinix began with One/Three and a bridge to the diverse textures that would define Two/Three four years later.Instrmntl offers a snapshot of a time when potentials seemed infinite, when lines could be drawn between jazz, ragga jungle, techno, and hip-hop and the resulting shape divined an exciting future.
On Two/Three, the second Dabrye album for Ghostly International, Tadd Mullinix brought together a formidable crew of local and national rap talent to make the statement he’d always intended.With Two/Three Dabrye placed himself at the forefront of hip-hop's mid-2000s new wave and threw a Molotov cocktail into the rap world as uncompromising as the head-twisting cover art from WK Interact.
When Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix began exploring hip-hop under the name Dabrye 20 years ago, he soon honed in on a startling vision of what the genre could be: ingenious, refined, daring. This vision came to life across two albums for Ghostly International - 2001's One/Three and its 2006 follow-up Two/Three - with each record further positioning the quiet Michigan producer as one of his generation's best, equally comfortable creating minimalist instrumental meditations or sharp rap salvos. In the late 2000s, following critical acclaim and accolades from both peers and inspirations (including the late Jay Dee with whom Mullinix collaborated before his untimely passing), Mullinix put the Dabrye moniker on ice and dedicated himself to other genres and ideas.
All this changes in 2017 as Dabrye makes his long-awaited return with Three/Three, a razor-sharp rap album that brings to completion a prophetic trilogy. Guests include indie rap legend DOOM, Wu Tang storyteller Ghostface Killah, L.A word fanatic Jonwayne, and Long Island's rugged surrealist Roc Marciano. Most importantly Three/Three is, much like its predecessor, an unfettered celebration of Detroit-area talent with Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Kadence, Quelle Chris, Danny Brown, Shigeto, Clear Soul Forces and more all lending their touch to Dabrye's return.
Nearly 20 years after the first Dabrye beats burst out of Mullinix's home computer, Ghostly International is compiling reissues of all three Dabrye albums - One/Three, Two/Three, and Instrmntl - with the third chapter in the Dabrye album trilogy, the long-awaited Three/Three album, in an exclusive limited edition numbered box set. Time hasn’t dulled Mullinix's sonic throw-ups, if anything the blur between digital and physical, hip-hop and electronic, subtlety and ruggedness that his music always implied is even more relevant today, especially in a world where students of his style are among the biggest names in the game. Like the city it looked to for inspiration, Dabrye's sound was built to last.
"Black boys have a whole world of complexity that society makes us stomp out of ourselves." Language, Bryndon Cook's full-length debut as Starchild & The New Romantic, communicates his refusal to do so. Describing himself early-on as a "young romantic boy from Maryland," Cook has long been a dreamer, a student of black music's rich lineage and its intersection with pop. He's drawn to landmark moments where artists have found truth in darkness; the diverse language of music living in their core. This record is his; lifting off from the monochrome world of Crucial, his 2016 EP on Ghostly International, up towards a dazzling crimson blood-rush of sky-high defiance and autonomy. On Language, Cook refines his phonics for funk, electro, and R&B, and arrives at a revelation, best summarized by a single motto: "my sensitivity is my strength."
Since his 2012 debut as Heathered Pearls, Jakub Alexander has constructed art - music, objects, installations - as a way of revisiting and re-imagining fragments of his past. The Polish-born producer's first album was a slow, oceanic response to the ambient music his mother introduced him to as a kid. His second, 2015's Body Complex, used melodic repetition to render the architectural structures of his daydreams as a teen, as well as the late night drives home with friends in the afterglow of a rave. Detroit, MI 1997 - 2001 resumes reflection on the formative era. The EP's four compositions take their respective names from four distinct locations of Alexander's youth, and sonically suggest the deeper sides of early Detroit techno. The sound that pulled him and countless others from the suburbs to the scene at a young age; music he’s been DJing for the last 20 years and relied on especially when warming up bigger rooms on tour with Tycho.
Kllo, an electronic pop collaboration between Melbourne cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam, waded in figurative backwater for much of 2016, amidst an extensive world tour. These were exciting times; the duo's Well Worn EP furthered the promise of 2014 EP Cusp, receiving millions of streams and landing Kllo on festival stages as well as Artists-to-Watch lists. Nonetheless, the stretch kept them far from home, isolated and vulnerable, treading through perpetual uncharted territory while yearning for the comforts of the familiar.
Kllo have officially come out the other end of the stilted estuary with twelve compositions cultivated to feel timeless and crafted, and equally current. The duo’s debut full length - and their most realized work to date - Backwater celebrates the ephemeral and the enduring changes in emotion, the downfalls and the dissolves. It’s an album that parts course with its flow, and flourishes in a lowland.
It's been four years since Zach Saginaw, aka Shigeto, returned home to Michigan from a stint in Brooklyn, NY, and since then, the multi-faceted musician has become a part of the fabric of Detroit's music scene. While always having a personal approach to his projects, Saginaw's influences for his third album, The New Monday, are more about the community of Detroit than anything else. The record - named after a weekly DJ event called Monday is the New Monday that Saginaw does at the unassuming Motor City Wine with a group of friends - aptly features contributions from many other Detroit-based artists like Danny Brown's Bruiser Brigade affiliate ZelooperZ (who Saginaw also has a side project with called ZGTO). The New Monday represents a communal effort where solidarity is the key.
"I think over the past four years, I can confidently say that I found my place here," describes Saginaw. "I'm happy here and I feel that I have the respect from the people I need respect from, that I want respect from. It’s all of the result of embracing it and embracing, not Detroit, but embracing community, embracing family, being closer to my parents, being closer to my oldest friends."
In August 2017, Ghostly International will reissue Com Truise's Cyanide Sisters EP in premium 12" jacket. The first official Com Truise release - originally a digital download through AMDISCS in 2010, remastered and expanded by Ghostly in 2012 - Cyanide Sisters was an electrifying introduction to a prodigious new talent. At the time Seth Haley was a designer by trade, making music out of his bedroom in Princeton, New Jersey with a collection of analogue equipment. While many of his contemporaries were mining nostalgia as an end unto itself, Haley recombined older musical forms as a means of expressing something deeper and more ambitious, building a carefully conceived picture of the artist’s vibrant inner world.
"Repetition is a form of change," reads one of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies. Seth Haley knows the concept well, and his style of technicolour synth-wave takes the mantra as a challenge. Six years after Galactic Melt introduced the cosmic story of Com Truise, Iteration now concludes his sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Haley's singular music has ever sounded. At the album's heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iteration illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. "...Of Your Fake Dimension" launches the interstellar drama with its anthemic swells and widescreen sound design, before lovesick songs like "Dryswch" and "Propagation" outline scenes wrought with cybernetic pathos. Later, the frantic rhythms of "Syrthio" conjure images of panicked flight as Haley's gorgeous synth melodies gild the action in quiet heartbreak. Then comes the resounding "When Will You Find The Limitâ€¦", when Iteration's pain and sadness finds liberation in the vast unknown. The closing title track ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry. So goes the winding story that Iteration tells, and yet there's more behind its telling. "I try hard not to write from my personal life, but it's inevitably going to seep into the music," Haley explains. "It's basically like I'm scoring this film in my head, but that film I'm scoring is also somehow my life." There are glimpses of the difficult time the East Coast native spent adjusting to a new life in Los Angeles, fighting homesickness and burnout while also touring the world. It was a time full of uncertainty, transition, and self-realization. After a year and a half of living in California, Hayley finally recaptured his creativity by finding new excitement in his work. "I put more air, more breathing room in the music-- that was the big change," he says. And once that clicked, the album just poured out of him. "It was like an information dump. I feel like I finished the record in two weeks." Such a clear refinement of the Com Truise sound took time to develop, but Iteration is well worth the patience and perseverance it cost. Some of Haley's smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop of "Isostasy" to "Ternary"'s lush synth-funk. A song like "Vacuume" somehow balances massive bass drops and smashing drums with angelic gasps, and "Usurper" gracefully pairs subtle poignancy and uplifting dance beats. "For me, it feels like change," Hayley says of his second album, and yes, this is Com Truise like never before. By embracing the music's inherent nature and peerless qualities, Iteration finds new avenues of expression in its vivid, familiar surroundings.
What does a daydream sound like? Is it an audible confidence boost, a concentrated dose of caffeine shot straight into the bloodstream of dancing feet, a blue so overwhelmingly electric its field stretches as far as the eye can see? On Amadeus, the newest Ghostly effort from New York's Lord RAJA, the shapeshifting producer answers his own question with a cunning, childlike purity not felt since he started tinkering with Fruity Loops aged six. Though his means of music-making have matured since then—on Amadeus he utilizes an arsenal of drum machines along with synthesizers and an Allen & Heath analog mixer slammed through for extra crunch—RAJA describes a deliberate return to youthful experimentation and immediacy, clearing the way for a "vista to his childhood."Having produced 2015's PARA full-length in the confines of his parents' home in upstate New York, he moved to Brooklyn after its release and found himself in a basement studio, isolated from the influence of knowingness, wide-eyed once more. Soon after, he joined Ghostly labelmates Shigeto and Heathered Pearls for an extensive European tour, finding inspiration in the continent's techno culture—albeit in an unexpected way. "When I would go out, I would see techno DJs, but it didn’t really speak to me," he says. "It was unnecessarily pristine. So I wanted to make the shit I would want to hear."Returning to the basement armed with this self-challenge and an intentional naÃ®vÃ©tÃ©, RAJA composed a flurry of one-take productions, often making tracks over the course of an evening and road testing them with walks to the waterfront when the rest of Brooklyn had gone to sleep. Imbued in them all is what he describes as "micro-choices" —the practice of very simple effects and subtle sonic decisions—in a nod to longtime influence from the nuance and subconscious innovation of Stanley Kubrick's filmmaking.Longtime fans of the producer may be accustomed to productions more directly aligned with hip-hop and leftfield beats, but his swagger hasn't gone anywhere despite the decidedly dancier change of form. The release is bookended by an exuberant and naturally collaborative piece with Acemo—a fellow New Yorker whom RAJA describes as his favorite producer—and bonus track "Fox Den," an eight-minute cosmic meander released as part of the Adult Swim singles series last year. On standout "O.K" his customary percussive potpourri mingles with vocal chops and an electro bounce even the most humorless club patron couldn’t resist. "Black Coffee," another highlight, features synth lines so darkly acidic they should come with toxic warnings. RAJA describes the track title as a literal take - a soundtrack to jolt first date jitters, a call to cool courage.Amadeus, meanwhile, he suggests is a cheeky nod to the complex richness of his musical heritage. He says, "I think it’s kinda funny to flip an idea of western imperialism and how it proliferated. It’s playful as an Indian man to call yourself Amadeus, knowing how much composers borrowed from eastern classical influences."
Punky noise, woozy hip-hop and oddball electronics are throwing a rager and it's a colorful one. Such is the basis for new Ghostly signee Psymun's Rainbow Party EP, a three-track foray into the far reaches of Hip-Hop from the Minnesotan music-maker. As part of the acclaimed Thestand4rd project (including fellow Minnesotans Corbin (aka Spooky Black), Bobby Raps and Allan Kingdom) as well as solo work on the Pink Label - Psymun returns with a sonic statement that's as emotive and adventurous as the impressive as the work he's supplied his crew with.
Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias, and you'll get a simple response: Baths is active listening; Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.
Don't mistake "passive listening" for anything remotely resembling apathy: Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it's replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.
"So much of dance music is about partying and going out and having a really hardcore social experience," Wiesenfeld says. "Dance music has never been that for me. So much of my experience listening to music is being by myself - at home or in my car."
MichaÅ‚ Jacaszek is an absolute master of melancholy: the Polish composer who's spun dramatic shades of darkness and light into gold for more than a decade now, from the trickle-down electronics of Treny and artful gloom of Glimmer to the vapor-trailed verses of their looming spiritual cousin KWIATY.
KWIATY - which was inspired by An English anthology of metaphysical poetry from the 17th century - is the most vocal-driven material Jacaszek's ever written, melding his stormy melodies with a breakout performance by Hania Malarowska (of the Warsaw-based rock band Hanimal) and the robust supporting roles of Joasia Sobowiec-JamioÅ‚ and Natalia GrzebaÅ‚a, with lyrics adapted from poems from Virgil and Robert Herrick.
From his early releases as Lusine onward, Jeff McIlwain's electronic explorations make up one of the more diverse discographies of the past decade and a half. Effortlessly blurring the lines between techno, electro-pop and experimental composition, the Texas-raised/Seattle-based producer's arrangements are meticulously constructed, but also filled with emotion and soul. With an introspective turn that's hinted at in the record title, Lusine's fourth album for Ghostly sees McIlwain diffusing the pop-leanings of 2013's The Waiting Room with opaque, brush-stroked melodies washing over these new buoyant productions.
Sensorimotor is a visceral album, with gorgeous opener "Canop"” slowly building into an empyrean cloud of music box chimes and an amorphous thrum. The following "Ticking Hands" is just as beguiling yet also more formed, with the processed melancholy vocals of McIlwain and his wife Sarah filtered into a chilling lament that unfolds over the song’s light skitters and Kraftwerkian pulse. Sensorimotor finds other past Lusine collaborators returning as well: Benoit Pioulard's narcotic croon loops into a swirling arpeggio during "Witness," and Vilja Larjosto's sun-kissed vocal melodies are spliced and splayed across the steady pulsing bass and fluorescent synth pads of "Just a Cloud," and later on "Won’t Forget."