Ital: Hive Mind
Planet Mu

Hive Mind would appear to be a near-perfect title choice for Daniel Martin-McCormick's debut Ital full-length, given that its five delirious tracks play like transcriptions of a teeming, swarm-like sensibility. It's a mind, incidentally, that's made its way into the public arena before, specifically in the form of his disco-punk band Mi Ami, as Sex Worker on Not Not Fun, and as a slightly different sounding Ital on Not Not Fun's sister label 100% Silk. On the Planet Mu outing, Martin-McCormick boldly subverts the tried-and-true conventions of 4/4 dance music by creating bizarre juxtapositions between house grooves and experimental scene-painting, often realized through the incorporation of samples and synthetic flourishes. The result is an over-saturated and provocative mish-mash that's very much of the moment and of its time.

That it is so is easy to gauge when the tracks are considered in the order presented. Opener “Doesn't Matter (If You Love Him)” scatters a convulsive spool of shredded Lady Gaga across a bumping, bass-prodded house pulse while also squeezing in a smattering of Whitney Houston and dive-bombing synth smears in the process. It's a wild ride and a heady mix, to be sure, and one emblematic of the Brooklyn producer's overloaded cranium. It's also so sonically diverting that it's easy to overlook the nihilistic effect imparted through the shredding of the vocal sample. More straightforward by comparison, “Floridian Void” hews determinedly to its pumping house agenda, even when a swirl of treated voices and fluttering synth chords threaten to push it off-course. Dazed, confused, perhaps a little bit drunk, the track wends its woozy way through a forest of dense synthetic undergrowth for seven trippy minutes before righting itself for the trip home with an insistent gallop whose insistence invites comparison to The Field. Considerably darker in tone, “Privacy Settings” is dominated by the aggressive slam of a recurring percussive effect, a move that cloaks the already sickly ambient textures in additional layers of suffocation and claustrophobia. Like “Floridian Void,” “Israel” unsettles its 4/4 rhythm base by loading it with enigmatic voice samples, echoing toms, and pitch-shifted bells, but never so severely that the earthy funk feel at the tune's core gets lost in the process. The relative straight-up club treatment given “Final Wave” comes as a refreshing change coming after the brain-addling material preceding it, though even here Martin-McCormick can't help throwing in a few curve-balls to pull the track away from its exuberant, disco-fied swing. Even so, the album nevertheless ends on a note of relative normalcy when the focus remains so directly on the cut's percussive throb (hi-hats, claps, and bongos) and iridescent synth sparkle.

It's an odd album in many ways, not the least of which concerns length. Three of the five pieces are in the ten-minute range, a move that pushes them beyond the conventional length one might expect for a dance track; such explorative sprawl lends the material an epic, even prog-like character that lessens whatever connection it has to the dance floor. Hive Mind is visceral and weird, the kind of machine music that jars one's senses and leaves one disoriented, desperate to grasp what's going on while also surrendering to the brute physicality of the music's rhythms.

March 2012