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Baker's Dozen

Aspirational Music: Hiro Kone's Favourite Tracks
Bernie Brooks , November 3rd, 2021 10:32

From the duduk to spiritual jazz, Hiro Kone's Nicky Mao guides Bernie Brooks through a selection of thirteen tracks that informed and inspired her latest LP, Silvercoat The Throng

Photo by Mara Corsino

"First off, I'm not really good at talking about music," laughs Nicky Mao, the mastermind behind Hiro Kone. "I spent a lot of time thinking about this, too. It's hard, you know? Originally, I thought, 'Oh, I should be choosing stuff that's formative.' But as I went along, I found that was far too broad. 40 years of life and music!

"So, I decided to think more acutely about my new record, Silvercoat The Throng," she continues. "To consider the depth and shape of these songs, their tone and resonance, and the ecosystem they live in. This is a selection of pieces that I feel provides a prism to consider the album through. Thinking not just in terms of form and technique, but the emotional qualities and poetics they carry and inspire in me."

In my role as someone who writes about music, it's entirely possible that Mao's is the discography I've thought about most. I've certainly written the most about it. Her Fallen Angels cassette on Geographic North was, if I'm not mistaken, the first promo anyone ever sent my way. My first published interview on this website was with Mao, on the occasion of Love Is The Capital's release in 2017. We talked again in 2018, when her collaboration with Drew McDowall, The Ghost Of Georges Bataille, came out.

I reviewed Pure Expenditure for tQ in 2018, too, an album that I said “cements her position as one of the finest electronic musicians working today." I absolutely stand by that assessment. In fact, by this point, it seems entirely obvious. Mao's discography charts a career of continuous, openhearted growth and exploration, with Silvercoat The Throng its latest highlight. Prior to Silvercoat, insectoid or geologic descriptors like "crystalline" typically felt like the best way to describe Mao's work, but now, not so much. Possessing a more organic sensibility and an oftentimes overwhelming human fragility - and resplendent with strings - the album further documents Mao's continued trajectory into unknown territory.

Throughout our conversation, Mao is characteristically hilarious and humble, calling the 13 tracks she's selected "aspirational", and never directly comparing her work to that of her heroes. But she could. In the unlikely event it's not happening already, it seems inevitable to me that, someday soon, artists will openly aspire to make records like hers.

Hiro Kone's Silvercoat The Throng is out now on Dais. To begin reading Nicky Mao's Baker's Dozen, click the image of her below