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Ital and Aurora Halal Have Prepared a Live Set That Will Blow Your Mind

Get acquainted with these Brooklyn mystics ahead of their Saturday gig at the Unsound Festival.

Photo courtesy of FACT TV.

Stream "Ascension," a brand new track from Ital & Halal off of their debut EP

Aurora Halal thinks about parties all the time. Sometimes she even dreams about them. Lately, she's been obsessing over the hurdles that might ruin the perfect party: hitches with venue, sound, finances. Brooklynites like to party, but in recent months, many of them have been worrying about the bleak state of the local scene, if only for an hour or two before they figure out which show to hit that night. Perhaps "bleak" is a harsh word, but sometimes it seems to be going that way: In the first few months of 2014, two of North Brooklyn's grimiest, and in turn, most vibe-friendly rooms—285 Kent and Steel Drums—shut their doors.


This is an issue for Halal. She needs a reliable location with the right atmosphere; something along the lines of Berlin's Tresor in its halcyon days. Since November 2010, Halal has hosted Mutual Dreaming, a series of Brooklyn dance parties that marry manic light shows with odd venues and "gem weirdo" musicians. She also embarked on her own production project early this year, when she made her debut on BAKK Recordings, and she inaugurated the Mutual Dreaming imprint earlier this month.

Next week at the Unsound festival in New York, Halal will debut another musical endeavor alongside her frequent collaborator and fellow Brooklyn-based producer Ital (aka Daniel Martin-McCormick): an Ital + Halal live set. The two struck up a rapport while studying under the same roof at the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid—Halal happened to wander into Ital's open studio one afternoon, where he was busy layering synths and tweaking drum patterns. She took the controls, added some of her own magic, and the result was their first collaboration, a track titled "Ascension," which the duo plans to release soon on Ital's Lover's Rock imprint.

As for Martin-McCormick, it wasn't until the mid-aughts that he turned to house and techno—when an atrophying indie rock scene had plenty of Pitchforkers running for the weirder corners of the dancefloor. And when he and Halal began touring as part of the dance label %100 Silk, their rock clubs crowds weren't exactly breaking it down on the dancefloor. "They were very watchy," he recounts, generating what he calls "this stilted staircase of energy." In the duo's ideal dance part utopia, clubbers are there to immerse themselves into the music, body and soul. They're there to get weird, to create a relationship with the DJ, who, Halal remarks, is simply "surfing their energy waves to make something happen."

Key here is what McCormick calls "ecstatic, joyful noise"—a force that he and Halal try to conjure at their live shows. Much like how the term "funk" describes both a bodily smell and a particularly loose and raucous form of soul music, Ital's "ecstatic, joyful noise" is meant to edge listeners into the more animalistic range of human behavior. "There's a threshold where there's like, a normal amount of fucked-upness, but you always want to push it a little bit more—but not like so far that the whole point is to be shocking and alienating," he said. It's more useful to use the music "to draw people into a narrative or something like that."

But that's not to say they're knee-deep in psychotropics. Halal even recoils a bit when Martin-McCormick uses the term "clubbing crowd," which conjures images of Wall Street hotshots feeding goblets of cocaine to teenage models in silk and sequined mini dresses. The only substance that either of them mentions is LSD. Their EP's title, The Day After, is a tribute to deep, psychedelic experiences, and anyone who's tripped can tell you that a central component of the adventure is the sense that you're trapped in it, that you're in the clutches of this insane substance and there's no turning back. You have to ride it out, submit to it, come to terms with it. Likewise, Aurora and Ital's tunes are nearly violent in their intensity, and seem engineered to grasp dancers by the brain and body.

Halal and Martin-McCormick have had their fair share of mystical experiences on the dancefloor. What we're dealing with here—and what you'll see at Unsound Festival Saturday night—is a pair whose entire beings are enveloped and driven by singular passion. It lends an inflection to Halal's voice when she describes the audience at Steel Drums parties as "a seething mass in hell." It animates Martin-McCormick, who starts gesturing wildly as he slams the city's "air-conditioned clubs" and lauds a "head bashing" moment during Rrose's recent set at Brooklyn dive Bossa Nova Civic Club. It's a shared passion that makes you hope that your Saturday night and entire Sunday are cleared the next time these two throw a party.

Ital & Halal will perform live on Saturday, April 5, at the Unsound Festival edition of Bunker. More info here.