A confusingly cluttered follow-up to a celebrated breakthrough.
Darren Loucaides 2012-11-08
Ital’s Dream On is his second release of 2012, following February’s Hive Mind. In March, the man otherwise known as Daniel Martin-McCormick also put out a record with Mi Ami, the project he’s best known for, entitled Decade.
It’s anyone’s guess how he managed to keep this dub-punk experimentalist outfit going while finding time to venture into house and techno, starting with Sex Worker, and now in the very different guise of Ital.
Such sorties by indie/alternative types usually get short shrift from dance devotees, but Ital surprised many with Hive Mind, introducing us to a confident, heedless producer not afraid to shake things up. By contrast, Dream On, while certainly interesting, feels more like a brainstorm than a finished creation.
There are hints of classic house but rarely any of its minimalist tropes; whenever songs reduce to percussion, bass and a repetitive vocal sample, the respite is never long, before cascades of noise surge over the mix.
Opener Despot promises much, veering into discordant keys, frequently employing seemingly random shifts and notes. But while these sound impulsive, they’re not instinctual choices – they’re too calculated. On Boi, when spacey noises gleam through the distorted noise, the psychotic vocal loop and the incessant drums, it sounds cool, but also contrived.
There’s definitely plenty of brain food here, but not much in the way of real beauty to capture the heart. Hive Mind launched with Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him), which was wonderfully playful, the obsessiveness of the title phrase repeated against groovy bass and even handclaps. Meanwhile, Floridian Void was gloriously melancholic, laced throughout with swells of anguish and fragile, shimmering keys.
Dream On has its moments, but none match those two, and ultimately it’s hard to tell what the album’s for. It lacks the intensity, the peaks of euphoria and the consistency necessary for a rave. It’s too haywire for gentle boozing. And it’s infuriatingly intrusive as background music. There’s nothing tender here; clever it may be, but too clever for its own good.