Will Hermes
June 06, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Idol Tryouts: Ghostly International Vol. 1

Current Status
In Season
Various Artists
Ghostly International

We gave it an A-

Great electronic music compilations–ones that don’t just catalog a subgenre or reproduce a DJ’s club set but also march to their own aesthetic drummer–are rare. Last year saw Friends, a sumptuous set of warm, laptop-fractured “microhouse” beats with a touch of vocals, from the German Kompakt label. Tryouts is this year’s one to beat, a set from the young Michigan-based Ghostly International crew that comes with a grittier techno-soul vibe, more Detroit than Cologne. Hip-hop impressionist Dabrye, a cohort of like-minded beatmeister Prefuse 73, flips old-school synth stabs and Gigantor hand claps into a mod R&B bubble bath; Kill Memory Crash build a Teutonic-robotic Jonzun Crew; and Dykehouse’s “Map Ref. 41 N 93 W” is a prog-pop masterstroke that dares a sing-along chorus. RESPECT YOUR ELDERS Outputmessage’s “Bernard’s Song” sounds like a wordless shout-out to Bernard Sumner of New Order, whose recent boxed set is mandatory listening for tune-poor dance-music makers.

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