It’s hard to imagine now but only a few years ago, at the turn of the new century, Ann Arbor’s Ghostly International was struggling to find its way through the vast electronic music maze somewhere out there.
Though earlier releases by Matt Dear, Tadd Mullinix (and one of his aka’s, James Cotton) did begin turning assorted “headz” around the world, it wasn’t until the multidimensional Disco Nouveau; Tangent 2002 comp that people began to seriously believe in the ghost.
That record changed the rules. It married electro beats to abstract hip hop; indie rock to techno and house. Intelligent and danceable, it almost single-handedly trumped the idiotic electroclash movement, which broke out of Williamsburg at about the same time. Since then, an intense release schedule of mostly brilliant pop electronica has solidified the label’s reputation as one of the best independents anywhere on the planet.
World Series of Love, the new mini-album by Ghostly’s Midwest Product, is Disco Nouveau’s logical extension. It contains seven songs that effortlessly straddle the electro/rock divide, sometimes taking cues from New Order and My Bloody Valentine (on the splendid “Motivator”) and at other times possessing a Kraftwerkian playfulness (“Bank”). “Dead Cat,” the LP’s opening track, is dance-floor ready. It has big, punchy beats, layered with synths, guitars and mumbled vocals buried down in the mix. It swings.
The trio behind Midwest Product — Ben Mullins (electronics/guitar), Chad Pratt (drums) and Drew Schmeding (bass/keys) — plays arty party music with authority, something first hinted at on the group’s debut, Specifics.
World Series of Love takes the game up a notch, though its brevity may leave you asking for more. The high standard the label has set makes it nearly impossible to give up the Ghost in only 30.8 minutes.
E-mail Walter Wasacz at firstname.lastname@example.org.