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Musical Pairings: Ghibli – Rare Pleasures

May 16th, 2012

I was introduced to the music of Edmonton-based producer Thomas Michael, who records music under the nom de plume Ghibli, via a post by the always awesome Tim of Smoke Don’t Smoke. What struck me immediately about the music was how unique and yet familiar Ghibli’s latest album Rare Pleasures sounds. Indeed, Michael hashed the album out by weaving together disparate samples culled entirely from YouTube videos that ranged in fidelity. His goal was to breathe new life into the house music genre. In his words: “I’m trying to bring back the excitement and freshness of what house was originally, instead of rehashing the same tired approaches that so many are using.” I think we can all agree that although most of his house music contemporaries have set a pretty low bar, the idea of reenergizing a stale genre of music is an extremely ambitious goal. Amazingly, Ghibli pulls it off. Rare Pleasures sounds fresh, upbeat and extremely dance-friendly.

Album opener “The Crows Fly Back After The Storm” cruises open with a flittering ambiance before the disco synths and grooving bass unexpectedly drop in alongside swirling melodies and warbled Diana Ross-sampled vocals that rise and fall as if emerging and descending through water. It’s followed by the track that initially caught my attention, “Little Clique”, which features a blinking, busted-out groove and a steady, building rhythm that deconstructs and rearranges a snippet of borrowed vocals chanting “they don’t mean a thing.” The stuttering and high energy groove of “Flossy” builds upon the speed-laced and distorted vocals of Sylvia Striplin’s “Give Me Your Love”. And that’s just the first three tracks with plenty of other highlights along the course of the LP including the strobe-lit jam “Róisín and Aoife”, the ambiant and clattering “Winflowers”, and the chopped up melody on “Ross”.

Today you’ll notice that my lovely and extremely talented wife is featuring a recipe for Cafe Du Monde Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks (Uhm, YES!). I’d tell you how awesome and tasty and perfect for warm weather that recipe is, but it’s so obvious it’d probably sound like I was being condescending. After all, we’re talking about ice cream, coffee and chocolate. Oh, and if this were a New York Times crossword puzzle, your clue for this recipe would be: “Pairs well with Ghibli’s Rare Pleasures“. After all, the album is as sweet and cooling as a double-dipped cone, but given the right environment it’ll have you on your feet and spastically waving your arms and legs like you just pounded a whole pot of New Orleans’ styled black coffee.

Ghibli – Little Clique
Ghibli – Ross

Go visit Kasey for a delicious scoop of Cafe Du Monde Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks. Buy Rare Pleasures on limited-edition cassette from Crash Symbols or download the album digitally for free. Even better, do both.