Ital - Hive Mind

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2012-02-13

Mi Ami's last EP, 2011's Dolphins, seemed to find them a crossroads. Having lost their bassist, remaining members Daniel Martin-McCormick and drummer Damon Palermo made an abrupt switch from itchy no wave to glutinous Roland basslines and hissing beats. Dolphins was an expansive, sometimes thrilling release, slightly marred by an obvious lack of creative direction. It felt like a band trying on a new sound and, sure enough, Hive Mind finds Martin-McCormick, under the guise of Ital, throwing himself headfirst into the ambient dance netherworld.

The fantastic opening track, 'Doesn't Matter', is both shockingly vital and twistedly witty. Released just after the death of Whitney Houston earlier this month, it's impossible not to be taken aback when the track's juddering beat bumps up against a sample of Houston belting out 'I Will Always Love You'. Aside from that, it's a wonderful slice of wonky, retro acid house, nailing the spacey feel without being a simple retread.

Nothing quite lives up to this opening statement, but the rest of the EP is never less than engaging. 'Floridian Void' is a shimming ambient workout, stretching out to 10 minutes of kosmische head explosion. 'Privacy Settings' is a brief, dark interlude, voices hissing over a broken trip hop beat. 'Israel' begins in a spaced-out mood before introducing a bump 'n' grind rhythm and some spine-tingling splashes of synth. Closing tune 'First Wave' is an excellent, complex piece of electronica which constantly shifts and switches track before finally getting its rave on in spectacular fashion.

The music here is complicated, sometimes wilfully difficult, but also infectiously joyful and often warm. What's more, unlike Dolphins, it feels fully-formed, as if Martin-McCormick has worked through whatever trauma he was suffering and is here in playful mood. Or perhaps he's just enjoying working solo. However, as good as Hive Mind is, I wouldn't put money on its maker repeating the formula. If past form is anything to go by, he'll be onto the next sound by the time you read this.

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