Ital Tek: Hollowed

Ital Tek releases this year's best album to date.
Ital Tek
Planet Mu

Ital Tek has made a nearly perfect album, wherein each note and beat contains an intimate history of Alan Myson’s decade-long artistic development. From Hollowed’s pensive opening track, “A Delicate Balance”, to “Vacuum I’s” understated pads and lithe rhythms, the latter the equivalent to a person’s heart beating at the pace of a panic attack, Myson’s compositions descend into the abyss without fearing the endless fall. Darkened textures and mixed samples of hellish discord tie together the theme of vast emptiness. And how that emptiness translates into something acoustic instrumentation often fails to do, Ital Tek creates future beat’s version of the Cure’s Pornography.

To create the droning textures and vast spaces for them to dwell, Myson isolated himself in a brand new studio and returned to the genesis of his childlike desires to create music. What began with guitars, effects pedals, and minidiscs at 14 years of age was not abandoned entirely, just put on hold. Expressive like Burial‘s earliest efforts, Ital Tek found freedom from dubstep rhythms. Now, the rhythms adhere to Myson’s vision. “Redeemer” rapidly pans thin snare textures while voices swell and repeatedly shrink, drowned in reverb. The track, more importantly, the vocals themselves, never arrive anywhere.

Embracing both EDM and industrial music’s finest tools, “Cobra” strikes at the core of future beat’s newest occupant of the throne. Less an ode to industrial music than evolving its stereotyped identities, the beat borrows from EDM’s basic structures — drums and percussive features, scurrilous synth lines, drops, vocals samples; Ital Tek, on the other hand, breaks free from dubstep’s predictable formula, lowering itself into space and betraying the martial rhythm patterns for infinite space and time.

“Memory Shard” resonates the continued theme of despair. Gated vocal samples cut through syncopated rhythms with a dull, rusted blade. On the slab is memory’s cadaverous corpse — a painful reminder that what traumatizes us makes or breaks us in the end. Beauty restlessly emerges from the pain. “Aquamarine” thrusts itself to the bottom of the ocean. Frenetic hi-hats expose the difficulty of dismissing what it means to be human, even in dubstep’s shallow contexts. Hinting at his transformation since releasing Nebula Dance, uptempo bangers, like “Pixel Haze”, demonstrated the panoramic expansiveness despite being constrained by its two-step structure. The space between rhythm and sound becomes undone toward “Pixel Haze’s” end: a brief glimpse into the artist’s wish to do more with even less.

These days, Ital Tek appears more like an outlier on Planet Mu’s roster. By the same contention, Venetian Snares and Burial also appear more like misfits on a heavily populated island of other misfits. The underlying difference here is Ital Tek’s most individualized moment. What Myson shares with the artists above is invention through progression. Hollowed demonstrates the humanity of electronic music, particularly in a time when critics of EDM and dubstep have declared both genres dead. The term “terminus” possesses a dispassionate connotation: an extreme end. For Mayson, what ends with Hollowed is the journey to discover the shadows within himself. Likewise, the track “Terminus” gracefully embraces that very darkness. No other album made by the countless electronic composers delves this deeply into places people fear to face.

RATING 9 / 10