Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you love him. At least that’s what I’m told, incessantly, as I begin listening to Ital’s new record Hive Mind, released on Planet Mu. The fractured reiteration of the sentiment (sampled from Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”) gestures a striking nod toward Chicago and its seasoned footwork/juke scene, almost bordering on appropriation. In fact, if footwork weren’t the heralded sound of now, Ital might be mistaken as capable of contorting dynamics of time, space, and the human body in ways previously untested. Instead, it is, and while Ital can be easier taken for jumping on the clique-wagon, that would be a sour judgement. “Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” offers something decidedly different, as a steady beat is soon introduced that would likely fail to motivate the multitude of feet inside a dance circle but would certainly stimulate a crowd inclined to anything endorsed by Not Not Fun/100% Silk, McCormick’s previous stable.
Having said that, Hive Mind is by no means an attempt at a footwork record; from then on, the album pursues a house sound consistent with 2011’s Ital’s Theme. However, whereas Ital’s Theme had a notable coherency running throughout, Hive Mind is constantly shifting, with its steady four-to-the-floor undercurrent deceptive of its transient parts. Soon, in typical house music fashion, “Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” gives way to the diva (in this instance, Whitney Houston [RIP]), electronically eroticized, proclaiming “I will always love you.” In “Sampling (hetero)sexuality: diva-ness and discipline in electronic dance music,” Susana Loza highlights house music’s use of the ‘diva sample’ and asks: “Does the musically mechanised femme synthesised by techno and house prove that patriarchy continues to uphold gender differences despite its willingness to relinquish other previously sacrosanct categories?”
“Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” is, in my mind, the album’s highlight. In point of fact, I find the track to be an effective illustration of Hive Mind’s design, whereby Ital continues a (dis)course that is peculiar to house music while managing to maintain an alternative aesthetic amassed through his prior involvement in/as Black Eyes, Mi Ami, and Sex Worker. In a TMT review of Container’s LP last year, I commented on Ren Schofield’s pairing of techno alongside a noise behaviorism, which, along with Hive Mind, appears to exemplify a dominant trend in contemporary music making; namely, a merging of paths traditionally associated separately with the body (dance) and with the mind, intellect (contemplation), and, with regards to Loza’s question, their respective cultural associations: femininity and masculinity.
“Floridian Void,” moving on, ushers in an element of euphoria with an exciting staccato synth motif and a wash of delay, adding another substantial variation to the album’s already varied development. The axis takes the form of “Privacy Settings,” a relatively short haunting number composed of heavily processed percussion yet lacking any easily graspable pulse. Ital’s crude approach to production — an inexpensive combination of Audacity and audio ripped from YouTube — is irrelevant considering the admirable outcome of Hive Mind, which is settled by the luster of closing track “First Wave.”