Love Is the Capital is the debut album by Hiro Kone, which is the recording project of Nicky Mau. Ms. Mau is a New Yorker steeped in the old school proto-industrial electronic noise music of the late 1970s and early 1980s. So this is electronica far removed from dubstep, more Coil and Cabaret Voltaire than The xx or Burial. Although there is some overlap here with the deep grooves of the trance movement (The Orb, Young American Primitive), this music is less rounded and smooth and more grating and difficult.
The odd thing about this record is the label: Geographic North. The label address, as listed on their website, is 1.5 miles from the condo where this website is run. In fact, apparently the people who run this label live in the old Ice Factory near the tracks, over near the Fellini's. My girlfriend and i take her children to that Fellini's for pizza and so that they can orbit the fountain in the courtyard, slippery and dangerous and oh so enticing. I wonder if the Geographic North people have been looking out from their window, towards that fountain at the Fellini's, while i try to dissuade small children from climbing a slippery wet concrete bone-breaking construct...
It's a small world, in often weird ways.
And the record that these local people have released is pretty cool.
The album starts with a great throbbing, the tone a little bass-heavy and pulsing like a hangover. Ms. Mau calls this song Being Earnest, and to the throbbing she adds odd clatterings and strange wavering tones, and eventually a whooshing sound. This is noisy in that the sounds of which the song is constructed are not "normal" music sounds, but it is not like this is a Metal Machine Music cover or something, instead it sounds like mid 1990s IDM, like what Autechre were doing then.
A person named Drew McDowall joins Ms. Mau for Rukhsana, although i am not sure what Drew McDowall contributed. The song starts with a wavering tone, just a little melody looped, and grating noises sliding over it. Then a funky little riff comes over, and a stuttered voice joins. The song becomes dense, with lots of layers all looped and playing against one another, but it also has a nice head-bopping groove.
A person named Roxy Farman joins in for the next tune, Infinite Regress, which has a deep groove that pulses as the song clatters along like an Orb song. To this Mau adds a vocal loop slowed down, making it sound deeper, that kind of thing the dubstep kids love so much. Then the drone speeds up a little and a voice starts speaking, heavily echoed, reading some kind of lines in a ranting monotone. I suppose that is Roxy Farman. At any rate, this song reminds me of the industrial music from the 1980s, like Skinny Puppy or Front Line Assembly. It has that disorienting and vaguely angry feel to it, and is pretty cool if you like that sort of thing.
Next Mau contributes her entry into the "Coolest Song Title of 2017" competition with The Place Where Spirits Get Eaten. This is a noisy yet catchy song, like something from an early Autechre record, before they had abandoned such bourgeois concepts as melody and recognizable rhythms. This has an insistent beat, some odd little melodic bits, and a general forward motion. Catchy and fun.
The song Less Than Two Seconds falls into a very 1990s style in that the song is based on a sample of a voice talking with a British accent. In the 1990s it seemed like a lot of electronica songs were built around a vocal sample -- the looped voice at the center of the song and the rest of the music designed to accompany it. I mean, that is the gist of The Orb's mega-hit Little Fluffy Clouds, but there were lots of bands doing that type of thing. Now, in order for this type of song to work, the sample has to be interesting. The sample that Mau uses here is kind of "meh". However, in the middle she layers in some echoed synth drums sounds, giving it a slight 1980s feel, and suddenly i realize the guy reading the sample was wearing a skinny tie. Still, this is not her best work.
Mau gets her most dancefloor-friendly on Don't Drink the Water. This song has a great groove, a deep percussion loop that thumps along like something from Kompakt Records. Over this, head-bopping rhythm sounds whoosh and roar in the background. But that groove just keeps the song shaking along.
The title track is next. It is about two minutes of spacey burbling sounds. It is like the intro to an old Orb tune, the two minutes that lead up to the sample being added in.
Mau shakes it up a bit and starts The Declared Enemy like a Loscil tune with layers of slowly moving drones. Of course, Mau brings in some burbling samples to Autechre it up, and she adds in a deep bonging and a frantic drum beat. I like the addition of those rhythm loops to the burbly dub tune. It's really interesting, bringing the album to a close with an interesting reinterpretation of electronic dub.
Overall, i find this to be a very worthwhile album. And it was released by some people from down the street from me. Huh.
Fans of electronica, Krautrock, Berliner dub, ambient, and glitch will want to check this out.