When Ghostly International spawned the Spectral Sound imprint nearly a decade ago, Sam Valenti and Matthew Dear conceived the label as the dark, dancefloor-oriented alter-ego of Ghostly’s eclectic, album-based sound—a home for, as Matthew Dear calls it, “body music for the mind.” Now run by Spectral producer/DJ Ryan Elliott alongside co-founder Dear, the label has solidified its image as Ghostly’s leaner, meaner brother. Which brings us to the Elliott-curated Document compilation: “It’s a calling card,” the Detroit-bred Berliner explains, “a battle flag carried into a new decade.” Document, in other words, is the ultimate Spectral Sound manifesto.
Document mingles Spectral’s old guard (Audion, Hieroglyphic Being, James T. Cotton) with the new blood (Kate Simko, Seth Troxler, Lee Curtiss) and a few artists who straddle both worlds (Lawrence, Bodycode). An overall aesthetic is hard to describe, but the Spectral vision lurks in the music’s details: the way the bassline ricochets between the crackling snares of Lawrence’s “Divided (Kassem Mosse Remix)” like a pinball; the skyline-spanning groove of Ryan Crosson’s “Don’t Look Further”; and the thoughtful organ that hums below the record-closing “She Only Looks at You” by newcomer Gadi Mizrahi.
Document captures Spectral Sound circa 2010, at a peak in the label’s almost decade-long evolution. And although Spectral Sound’s sonic footprint is forever in flux, its mission has been the same since day one: “We want to provide uncompromising, forward-thinking, dancefloor-oriented music that’s relevant and cutting-edge on a global scale,” Elliott says, “but that also reflects our Midwestern roots.” As a compilation of all things Spectral, Document does just that.