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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/28/2012

Ital Hive Mind

The music of Daniel Martin-McCormick practically begs to be conceptualized, contextualized, and intellectualized. Under the banners of Black Eyes, Sex Worker, and Mi Ami, he's bolstered his visceral noise, punk, and electronic output by exploring ideas of subverting social norms—touching on gender issues, politics, identity, and more. It's certainly not meant to be a distraction, as the music is often more than capable of standing on its own, but, sometimes, the message can overshadow the songs that carry it. And even though Martin-McCormick has all sorts of ulterior motives and mangled ciphers woven throughout his debut full-length as Ital, Hive Mind is first and foremost about sticky house grooves and atmospheric sprawl, of which there are plenty.

Ital's LP clocks in at about 42 minutes with merely a five-song tracklist, an obvious indicator of the kind of jams he's crafted here. At times, it can feel like you've been listening to the same funky bassline or warped vocal samples for twice as long as you should (or would like to), though the effect is surely dampened when the tracks are heard in the forum they belong: the dancefloor. Sitting down and having a listen to the undulating low end and propulsive boom-clap of "Israel" may be fine for some, but a full and proper experience of the music can only come from moving about in a club while a truly bumping soundsystem blasts it. That's not to say that Ital's tracks are produced in any refined or state-of-the-art way, though. (Martin-McCormick has been vocal about his use of the freeware program Audacity.) It's more that this music is meant to elicit an immediate physical response, and not be analyzed and pondered outside of the effectiveness of its beats and the packages they come in. In that sense, Hive Mind succeeds by offering up fresh, experimental house music for listeners with a love for the classics.

Nonetheless, the album can also be enjoyed—in some respects—while at home or listening in headphones as you go about your day. Some of its most interesting qualities are the subtle intricacies and nuances that fill in the spaces between each melody and groove. Under the pattering percussion and celestial pads of standout "Floridian Void" swirls a thick cloud of sparkling ambient noise and warped field recordings; you could easily spend all of the track's 10 and a half minutes trying to follow the trail of each sound without realizing you've been tapping your foot the whole time. "Privacy Settings," the shortest of the five cuts, is a super-slow production completely void of danceable rhythms. It's sort of a waypoint between Hive Mind's two meaty halves, an effectively eerie track that might just have you looking over your shoulder the next time you're on Facebook.

It's impossible to shake the feeling that there is a hidden meaning crammed into Hive Mind, especially when listening to it as a whole. And because that message is so obscured, it can sometimes muddle a perfectly good tune. 2011's "Only For Tonight (Saviour's Love Megamix)" and other Ital singles—like "Culture Clubs" and "Ital's Theme"—are great because they are straightforward in their intentions to make you move with energetic rhythms and infectious melodies. Martin-McCormick's debut full-length does exhibit those qualities, but they're forced to share space with obtuse references to the internet and pop culture, which are often manifested as atonal sonic clutter. Had he trimmed the fat a touch and maybe tacked on an extra track or two in its place, Ital's LP might have been something closer to remarkable.

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