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Ital - Hive Mind

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Artist: Ital

Album: Hive Mind

Label: Planet Mu

Review date: Feb. 20, 2012

It seems that ever since electronic music was adapted to the dancefloor, artists have tried to reconcile our innate love of both dancing and experimental, “non-pop” approaches. Consider Funkadelic’s “disco” phase, as best illustrated on One Nation Under a Groove, where George Clinton and his troupe transported their brittle brand of psychedelic rock into the four-to-the-floor rhythms of disco (to thrilling effect). Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire got in on the act, with tracks like “Hot on the Heels of Love” and “Yashar” helping form what you might call “death disco.” More recently, we’ve been shown how the cinematic scope of progressive pop-rock can be transmogrified into disco and techno by acts like Lindstrøm and The Field, with their use of expansive synth lines and extended track durations.

Ital is a pseudonym of Brooklynite (and Dusted contributor) Daniel Martin-McCormick, whose discography includes records with D.C. punks Black Eyes and avant heavies Mi Ami, and as Sex Worker, whose Waving Goodbye on Not Not Fun was one of the stand-out releases of 2010. So, DMM has already showed a knack for reinventing dance music in ways that transcended genre and style. Under the Ital moniker, and on Hive Mind, he seems to be going for the jugular.

“Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” starts off with a looped sample of Lady Gaga intoning the opening line of “Born This Way” ad nauseum. It’s a familiar archetype for dance music (Orbital did the same thing with “Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day” on 1993’s “Planet of the Shapes”), but the shifting tempos DMM uses also hint at the tape loop works of Steve Reich. From there, the track stacks up propulsive 4x4 beats and sweeps of synth before taking an apropos swerve into Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” The presence of pop star samples — not to mention the “gay” or “camp” subtext that comes from choosing these particular divas — might sound like DMM is taking a page from disco, but “Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” feels more like a triumphant result of what Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig labeled “remix culture,” not to mention a brilliant entry into Hive Mind.

The album’s other tracks advance at a more reserved pace, but still display a keen sense of exploration and ecstasy, with DMM engaging in a veritable smorgasbord of cut-ups and backmasking. “Floridian Void” bubbles with hazy prog-rock synth, muffled vocals and loping beats, coming on like a cheeky Drexciya, whilst “Israel” and “First Wave” amble forward with a languid grace.

With Hive Mind, DMM toys with the boundaries of dance music whilst embracing its core with gusto. He’s not reinventing the wheel in the way some of the acts I mentioned above did, but everything on this oddball album demands your attention, often in unexpected ways.

By Joseph Burnett

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