Album Review

Hive Mind

Hive Mind

by Ital

Planet Mu
8 / 10
1st February 2012

Reviewed by Martyn Pepperell

Since the release of his single 'Ital's Theme' on 100% Silk in January last year, producer, DJ and musician Ital (aka Daniel Martin-McCormick) has been a hot topic of discussion in online music circles. Oft pegged as a purveyor of lo-fi, four-track house, while Ital's music definitely has a grainy quality to it (he actually samples off YouTube), given his work process, textural sound sculpture is probably a better touchstone.

Working away in a budget audio editing and recording program called Audacity, McCormick slowly pieces together loops and segments, layering them up, and adding in the occasional section written in Logic Audio, to create physically visceral compositions which also happen to carry a heavy emphasis on house style rhythms. Depending on who you talk to, he's either guilty of reinventing the wheel when it comes to experimental house and techno music, or realigning the similar impulses apparent in both tribal drone music, experimental noise and disco, techno and house.

In my personal opinion, in light of his background as a member of post-hardcore quintet Black Eyes (in his hometown of DC), and his side work making both rough edged electronica as Sex Worker (on Not Not Fun), and the wide ranging work he's constructed with Damon Palermo as Mi Ami, Ital's work simply another outgrowth of an inquisitive, well rounded musical mind. And a touch of unintentional wheel reinvention notwithstanding, as the five songs on Hive Mind slowly reveal, he's doing a great job at reinvigorating the contemporary line of communication between 4/4 dance music and the drone/noise/industrial texture camps - call it avant-club music perhaps. Admittedly at points you get the feeling that, to mix metaphors, you've just climbed into a deep sea diving suit designed by someone who has well; never actually seen the ocean before. But that isn't all bad, and can be exciting as well.

To digress, vivid use of aquatic terminology is actually a red herring here, as the majority of Hive Mind conjures up a cloudy aerial feeling. With its washy synthesiser pads, steady groove and regular 8-bit bleeps, it's very easy to imagine yourself floating through the Cloud City that hovers within the atmosphere of Bespin (that gas giant planet from The Empire Strikes Back). Concurrently, Ital's heavy handed use of infectious tribal drum referencing percussion, and his constant contrast between maximal and minimal creates some serious dynamic tension. So maybe it's more a case of being chased through Cloud City, with regular manipulated conversation/field recordings serving as background ambience.

All steady builders, decidedly simmering with depth, detail and life, picking clear winners out of the five songs on Hive Mind is hard, especially considering the general song length (8-10 minutes). In saying that, 'First Wave' surprisingly sounds like it would have been the perfect house beat for Biggie to rap on, and 'Doesn't Matter (If You Love Him)' has a groove that keeps on giving. Bonus points if you can correctly spot the Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and Peter Frampton samples.

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