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Since assuming the recording moniker Hiro Kone in 2011, New York City-based electronic artist Nicky Mao has personalized a space predicated on dark layers interacting with rhythm. With her early EPs on Group Tightener and Bitterroots, leading up to the EP Fallen Angels and the acclaimed debut full length album, Love Is the Capital (both on Geographic North), Mao’s meticulously crafted textures attracted collaborators like Drew McDowall (Coil), Little Annie, and Roxy Farman (Wetware) while driving against the grain of experimental techno. Mao’s explorations often cast themselves against danceable structures, creating a duality of crisis and escapism.
For Pure Expenditure—her debut on DAIS Records—Mao continues to weave a labyrinth of electronic pattern, with an often economical usage of repeating sequences and ethereal stasis to drive the narrative. The title refers to the sovereign release of a surplus energy, divorced from all imperatives of utility, which otherwise threatens to become morbid. Working from this creative theme, Mao uses this theoretical concept to seek out a long form statement without regard for any immediate interpretation or return.
In the context and construct of the album’s format, Pure Expenditure reaches into the psyche of sacrifice and the danger of excess, not in a traditional allegory, but in the actual investigation of where energy is absorbed and how it’s often negatively seeped into moral fiber. While the albums’ seven tracks don’t offer so much as a resolution to these conundrums as they do a case study, Mao’s sound has developed forcibly into the conscientious voice of systematic injustice, albeit often without syntax. Pure Expenditure creates thought through concept and volume through space. Thematically, acclaimed visual artist Tauba Auerbach created the album art, lending a conceptual cohesion through her spectral dissection of structure and ornamental arrangement.
As a journey, Pure Expenditure plunges into meditation and throbs in and out of a lucid consciousness orchestrated by Mao, but never veering into vanity. Pure Expenditure is as much rumination as it is ritual, querying the corners of Capitalism by hypnotically circling its tenets in measured cadence.
Mixed by Telefon Tel Aviv’s Josh Eustis, mastered and cut by Josh Bonati. Available on LP and Digital 8/24.
released August 24, 2018