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Ghostly International

The precocious Sam Valenti IV founded Ann Arbor-based Ghostly International in 1999 while studying art history at the University of Michigan and in a matter of months found himself at the helm of one of the leading lights of the blossoming, multi-faceted electro circuit. Inspired by labels like Mo' Wax and 4AD Records, Valenti has successfully sought to build something bigger than a label, an institution grounded in a distinctive cultural aesthetic. Early 12-inches (both on Ghostly and Ghostly imprint Spectral Sound) from the likes of Tadd Mullinix, Matthew Dear, and Kenneth Graham generated an immediate buzz among tastemakers of the dance underground, but it was Ghostly's beautifully realized 2002 compilation Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau that really catapulted the label to the front of the nu-electro scene. Packaged in a gorgeous hardcover booklet featuring 28 glossy pages of artist bios and notes about the origins and concepts of the compilation (which is based on an aesthetic linkage between '70s disco and the much older Art Nouveau movement), the release featured a varied collection of contemporary electronic artists reinterpreting and revisioning the classic, chirpy, Giorgio Moroder-inspired sounds of Italianate disco, to spectacular effect. In the wake of the comp, Ghostly has issued several other compelling releases, including an abstract IDM-flavored full-length from Mullinix and an electro-acoustic album by Ann Arbor's Midwest Product.