Not much has changed in Daniel Martin-McCormick’s approach to music with his latest project Ital. Like his past work, from the noisy free-punk of Black Eyes to the post-PiL jamming of Mi Ami, Hive Mind is loose, experimental and low-budget (much of it was put together via Audacity). This time around the style of choice, though, is dance-music or some loose techno cousin of it, at least.
The opening track of Hive Mind, “Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him),” shoots retro-synths by your left and right eardrums like THX on THC while sampling Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” The bass clunks along to the 4/4 as the words of the title trip along in a hyper-speed monotone release. McCormick drops the spoken-word vocal sample here and there just to remind us that we are listening to something, but otherwise the track fails to vary much, becoming a densely packed, spacey dud that is neither danceable nor particularly engaging.
The following “Floridian Void” is a much more crafted piece of sonic textures built upon wavering, scrapes, sounds and muffled voices. It takes awhile but about four minutes in the synths hit with what may most resembles a melody and the trace Martin-McCormick has been putting you in suddenly releases for something that isn’t exactly the exaltation of house music’s crescendos, but works pleasantly enough to keep you interested.
“Privacy Setting” is a three-minute throwaway of stuttered loops and breathy vocals long enough for you to get another drink or go to the bathroom before returning for the final two, 10 minute-plus tracks, “Israel” and “First Wave.” Just after the preacher sample (after all, it IS called “Israel”), the beat kicks in under clanking bells and a wobbly bass that quite possibly could be sampled off any number of tracks from Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Which is a good reference point to bring up the sonic spaces Martin-McCormick’s Ital is fooling around in. The beat drops out periodically and there are enough random layers of manipulated timbres, samples and sudden changes to not make such reference points completely obvious, but known to Martin-McCormick or not, that’s where much of his debut exists up against the various playing fields of EDM, for better or worse.
Hive Mind is an ambitious first, low-budget foray into some sort of genre-shedding electro-fueled musical space. Unfortunately, the album trips up on it’s own attention span, pulling it’s pieces at random, resulting in a puzzle more than any kind of unified whole. Much like most of Martin-McCormick’s work, it ultimately lacks cohesiveness and direction to evolve into something truly outstanding, but still remains intriguing enough to possibly earn points with the more adventurous listeners.