Pitchfork posted an 8.0 review of Ital's debut full-length, Hive Mind, today!
Published on February 20th 2012:
"Daniel Martin-McCormick is unconcerned with neatness. Throughout his work with Mi Ami, Sex Worker, and Black Eyes, and now as Ital, his music betrays an intentional, fuck-all messiness he uses to explore the carnal and sinister. Ital is Martin-McCormick's house-music project, or more accurately, the project in which he jumbles up house signifiers until they represent something sloppy and shaggy. Hive Mind is his first full-length as Ital after three excellent 2011 12"s helped launch Not Not Fun sublabel 100% Silk's foray into electronic dance music.
A sound-world almost pathologically obsessed with its own neatness, house is an excellent foil for Martin-McCormick. It wasn't always this way: In its early Midwest "disco on a budget" incarnations, house music's wild, amateur, and experimental nature overwhelmed the mechanical precision of drum machines. Hive Mind isn't nostalgic, necessarily, but its unhinged attitude has more in common with early Trax recordings than, say, the note-perfect imitations offered by revivalist acts such as Azari & III. Those early recordings were oriented toward social and communal issues; Hive Mind is smaller and more private. It's body music meant for the mind, though some distance from the living-room techno peddled by labels such as Smallville and Dial.
Recognizable four-on-the-floor kick drums provide a backbone from which Martin-McCormick can hang his gargled synths. In this way the beat and the tempos are familiar, but everything else is askew. See the diva-soup of album opener "Doesn't Matter (If You Love Him)", which samples Lady Gaga and Whitney Houston. The message is simple enough-- dance music's wailing mantras are vainer and darker than their lyrical content often implies-- but the method is eerie and confrontational. "Floridian Void"'s glistening synths might've been an anthem, but Martin-McCormick interrupts them with half-heard conversations. Snippets of oration also dominate "Israel" before it settles into a slurred cowbell groove. Again, mind over matter: If the point of Hive Mind is to gain purchase on the dance floor, there are easier ways to go about it.
This mangled formalism is new for Martin-McCormick, who has traditionally operated under the everything-goes umbrella of post-punk (the interstitial industrial workout "Privacy Settings" is the only track here that forfeits composure). Martin-McCormick retains his fondness for long, engrossing pieces, stretching three Hive Mind tracks past the 10-minute mark. Unconcerned with whipping dancers into a frenzy, the tracks shift and swing unexpectedly. "First Wave", which contrasts a sickly sweet synth melody with grumpy, tumultuous rhythms, drops its melody repeatedly and randomly, and the result is the rare house track that feels as if it's decaying rather than building. The massed, clipping vocals of "Doesn't Matter" are annoying, intentionally so. Sonically familiar, Hive Mind subverts the expectations and structures of house music.
Perhaps you prefer the wild imagination of Mi Ami or Sex Worker; what Martin-McCormick accomplishes on Hive Mind is trickier and, frankly, more impressive. He's hardly the first artist to turn an experimental eye toward house, but his instincts are good, and it seems that he could churn out proper bangers if he weren't so mischievous. Important too is that Hive Mind doesn't feel wholly loving: There's healthy skepticism built into these readings, which are less about tearing down walls than rearranging the furniture. By reining in his more abstract impulses, Martin-McCormick has delivered as messy and thoughtful a take on house as we're likely to hear this year." - By Andrew Gaerig
Purchase Hive Mind on CD, double 12" vinyl, single song or full album MP3 download HERE.
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