Review: Ital – Hive Mind

Daniel Martin-McCormick of Mi Ami, Black Keys, and Sex Worker introduced us to Ital, an outlet for his more dancefloor orientated house music, last year.  With the sonically diverse 12”s he released on 100% Silk behind him, he’s decided to break in 2012 with his debut album, Hive Mind, on Planet Mu. The album is just under 50 minutes long and full of ideas which are executed in five lengthy tracks.

The album’s opener “Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” gets into the swing of things quickly, starting off with sporadic vocal chops of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, which leads into a funky, 80s sounding bassline.  Both these elements add interest, but what stands out in most of Ital’s tracks is the way he uses pads.  They shoot from the left and right, pitching down all the way to the center of the mix, until they almost drown out all other sounds.  That combined with some slightly tropical percussion makes it easy to picture yourself relaxing on some island near the equator, drink in hand, headnodding under the stars.  This is the perfect way to introduce listeners to his sound.

“Privacy Setting” is on a completely different tip; this is where the album takes a sharp turn left into dark, borderline ambient noise.  Any percussion used is drowned in reverb and filters and the synth work brings to mind his song “Rhythm of the Night” released under Sex Worker.  Midway through this unholy symphony he decides to incorporate wolves howling, which is surprisingly fitting.  It’s as if he is transporting the listener into a dark and twisted forest.  This might have been more suitable later in the album as a nod to his previous work, but is welcome change all the same.

Stream: Sex Worker – Rhythm Of The Night

After “Privacy Setting’s” leftfield detour the album shifts back to the four-to-the-floor formula.  “First Wave” is one the album’s strongest tracks and sounds like a potential FaltyDL track with drums that are just shy of Lustman’s NY garage shuffle.  Once again he relies heavily on lush pads that pan left and right, which begin to change about halfway through the track into something with a bit more timbre and substance. The track sounds natural partly due to the arrangement and automation, which feels almost entirely improvised. The end result is a lovely house tune full of energy and variation.

If the Catholic Church used synthesizers instead of organs and pianos during service, the intro to “Israel” is what it might sound like. Toned down, melancholic pads start the track and sustained FM bells are sprinkled on top while audio from an interview, or something along those lines, is laid on top.  Deep basslines chug along letting the glassy pads and either a cowbell or train bell sample guide the track towards its 10-minute mark. As with many of Ital’s tracks it’s a slow burner capable of being headphone music or mid-night dance floor filler.

“Floridian Void” is a fitting closer almost like the last track at the end of a night when you want to dance just a little bit longer, but know you only have five or six minutes left.  In that way Ital tries to fit a lot into this one track; there are distorted conversations, ambient noise, artificial percussion elements, swirling FX and synths. All of that bundled together creates a dark, eyes down environment similar to “Privacy Setting” with a pinch of stomping techno.

Ital takes an interesting path with this album – it is slightly leftfield, but at the same time quite danceable.  With its intricate percussion and creative synth work, Hive Mind has the potential to appeal to house DJs and enthusiasts as well as people with a penchant for synth pop and electronica.  He’s clearly a man with a lot of ideas who knows how to execute them; the problem arises when he crams too much into one track.  It is similar to the problem Dam Mantle had early on, and one that time and experience will hopefully sort out.

ITAL “Floridian Void” (Planet Mu) from the upcoming album “Hive Mind” out March 6th on Planet Mu.

Jonathon Alcindor

Writer & Techy. My word is bond, whatup doe? Twitter,

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