Hive-minded auteur thinks the internet is a sting operation
Words Tim Burrows
Daniel Martin-McCormick, aka Ital, is explaining the anxious, doomy thinking behind Hive Mind — the first full album under his latest guise. “The internet’s very interconnectedness can account for a kind of all-consuming dread,” he says. “The thematic content of the record focuses on a combination of sensory overload of new media and the paranoia one feels about the huge amount of unknowns in our environment. It was unheard of when my parents were growing up for anyone in their thirties to be ill with cancer. I have known four or five people who have fallen ill in their twenties and early thirties. What the fuck is going on? Is it our cellphones? You get this feeling that we are part of this vast, planet-wide experiment.”
Hive Mind is paranoiac psychedelia for the generation that invented roflcopter. A fusion of dark house beats and recognisable samples that echo around Audacity-created wastelands, this is techno that doesn’t need clubs; instead it’s a prolonged excursion into 21st century ennui.
Martin-McCormick’s CV reads like a Dalstonite’s dream. He grew up in the Washington DC hardcore scene and was part of Dischord-signed quintet Black Eyes. He moved from Washington to California to study music at San Francisco State before forming no-wave acolytes Mi Ami. He’s now based in New York, where Brooklyn’s label du jour Not Not Fun put out his previous solo vehicle Sex Worker while sister label 100% Silk released 12” ‘Ital’s Theme’ last year.
‘Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)’
Hive Mind’s opening track ‘Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)’ begins with a Lady Gaga sample chopped from the start of ‘Born This Way’ and repeated until it bubbles over into Whitney Houston’s soulful wail from the 1992 hit, ‘I Will Always Love You’, unmasking the emotional bombast of The Bodyguard to reveal a hollow centre. “It is a comment on emotional nihilism — this feeling that it doesn’t matter if you love something because everything’s fucked,” he says before a breathy chuckle. “I don’t believe that, but I have seen it creep up on my periphery at times and have seen people embrace it; go into this dark place.”
As with many artists at the moment (think James Ferraro’s new direction or Ital’s Planet Mu label-mate, The Host, whose every song from his new album is inspired by internet culture) Martin-McCormick has turned to the internet for inspiration.
Fourth track, ‘Israel’, opens with a sample of comedian Steve Harvey’s declaring, “The internet has become this place for evil to dwell”. The comment was part of an anti-blogging tirade that led to Odd Future’s “Fuck Steve Harvey” campaign and while its inclusion here is intended as comic, Martin-McCormick empathises with the statement.
“I was in this downtown office, trying to get food stamps,” he says. “There were two women in this shitty building and one of them was talking about how she owns a sports bar and had just put a new floor in. I realised they were talking about [online virtual world] Second Life. Maybe it is healthy in one sense but my first reaction is: ‘Stop!’”