Ital – Dream On (Planet Mu / November 5 2012)
Italʼs finessed debut Hive Mind established him firmly as an experimental house artist; if anything, the EP was too short to convey his dazzling creative energy. Now, with his second release for Planet Mu, Ital, aka Martin McCormick has carte blanche to make a weightier, more conceptual record, allowing all the creative freedom afforded by the full-length format.
And‘full-length’ is certainly the case with regards to the tracks; over half of them clock in at over seven minutes. Dense, textural and sprawling, Dream On explores the furthest reaches of house and techno. The first track, ʻDespotʼ, is an abstracted mélange of unrelenting vocal stabs, ravey bassline and spiralling chords. Itʼs abrasive and discordant, setting the tone for the rest for the rest of the album. ʻBoiʼ is equally lengthy, intense and unpredictable. Shifting dynamically into a club track built around a single vocal loop, its febrile drumming and swishing chords descend into a thickly layered sonic dirge, punctuated by stolen snatches of melody. The effect might be jarring, but thereʼs no denying Italʼs capacity for real emotional range and depth with his self-consciously denatured, imperfect sounds.
While Dream On delights in the bizarre, it can also be cacophonous, even obnoxious: the brusque synths and techno throb of ʻEat Shit (Waterfalls Mix)ʼ are a case in point. Itʼs when Ital focuses on sensation rather than frenzied activity that Dream On becomes truly compelling. Forbidding and vast, album highlight ʻEnriqueʼ is a slowed-down house track with an enveloping, lumbering groove and intense drone. Itʼs followed by the far lighter touch of ʻHousecapellaʼ, a brief interlude of textured, queasy house. ʻWhat A Messʼ, another epic sprawl, is described by the label as the sound of “music rotting”, and there is a palpable sense of decay in the snatches of tear-streaked vocal samples, scratchy synths and mulchy distortion. Fortunately its near-total absence of a groove is more than compensated for in album closer ʻDeep Cutʼ, a potent four-to-the-floor track awash in waves of distortion. Itʼs a high note for the album to end on, condensing Dream Onʼs murky, mangled approach to the forms of classic dance music brilliantly.
Though itʼs dance music at its most obviously personal and emotional, Dream On largely manages to avoid self-indulgence, dovetailing the grooves of deep house with the abstraction of drone, or the pulse of techno with dissonant walls of noise. This is the sound of a producer unafraid of his own creativity. With the sonic soup of his first full-length, Ital has achieved what most artists strive for throughout whole careers: the ability to transport you into his own strange world.