Posted on Mar 13th 2012 01:32 am
Planet Mu 2012
05 Tracks. 42mins33secs
Daniel Martin-McCormick has been making waves with a variety of projects for quite some time, with releases on Dischord when he was vocalist with Washington DC-based hardcore combo Black Eyes, Quarterstick and Thrill Jockey as part of disco/punk outfit Mi Ami. More recently, he turned to dark and twisted dubbey electronica with Sex Worker, a solo project which has seen him release music on Not Not Fun Records. Lately, Martin-McCormick focused his attention on yet another project, soberly entitled Ital, the time of a couple of EPs for NNF subsidiary 100% before landing a spot on Mike Paradinas’s discerning Planet Mu, for whom he delivers a slick and playful debut album.
Far from the oppressive and dark ambiences of Sex Worker, Martin-McCormick seeks inspiration in smooth progressive house and techno for this project, but this is really only part of his vision. Whereas Privacy Settings, Israel or First Wave combine the energy of house and the polished laid-back approach of classic techno, with the former and latter building into extremely lush and classy examples of hearty dance music, this is completely turned on its head earlier with Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him), which loops the opening phrase of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way over and over, with a hint of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You thrown in for god measure, over a stern bass line and a rather sober drum pattern, over which Ital throws bright electronic sparks. Floridian Void, with its cut up vocal components, howling wolves and odd pinball-like percussive components, delves into a comparatively murky and inhospitable terrain where progression is slow and impaired by all sorts of sonic distractions which eventually combine into something rather noxious.
The three tacks which occupy the later part of the record have in common to all clock just over ten minutes and feel as if they were devised to work together, away from the previous two. On Privacy Settings, Martin-McCormick slowly layers an elegant groove, served by seventies disco keyboard washes which he distorts at regular intervals. Just past the half way mark, this seems suddenly accentuated quite drastically to the point of occasionally sounding as if two tracks, with no common ground on which to meet, were playing simultaneously. Built around hazy synths lines and dubbey drums motifs, and set to a slower pace, Israel is somewhat darker and more oppressive composition, but Martin-McCormick steers clear of the post industrial textures that he often employs as Sex Worker to expose a rather smoother groove, even if it occasionally appears to struggle to progress in a linear way. First Wave returns to the more polished textures of Privacy Settings, but the tone Martin-McCormick adopts here fast-forwards a couple of decades, leaving behind seventies influences to find its reference in the early nineties instead. Although it appears to go over the same motifs time and again, the piece actually slowly progresses through its whole course, building momentum until it is time to pull the plug altogether.
Hive Mind is quite a disconcerting collection by its vast scope and playful approach, but it also proves a rather enchanting journey, pretty much for the exact same reasons. Daniel McCormick is certainly not phased by the challenge, and he makes it all fit together extremely well, creating one of the most thoroughly thrilling records of this year so far.