Hiro Kone - Silvercoat The Throng

  • A beguiling experimental record that plays on the very concept of time itself.
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  • In the blink of an eye, large swaths of regular life vaporized and many of us holed up in our homes, plagued by uncertainty. Regular routines disappeared and the days began to bleed together, marked by a new practice of simply attempting to be present. The weeks and months somehow both dragged on and flew by. Time stretched and condensed until suddenly, the year was over as quickly as it began. To call the pandemic lockdown a mind-bending experience is an understatement. As shelter-in-place orders extended, competing cultural influences aimed to fill the nooks and crannies of the meandering days. Online workout routines, video group chat apps and streaming watch parties all competed for attention, reinforcing the paradox that time was both plentiful and fleeting. New York artist Nicky Mao's fourth album as Hiro Kone, Silvercoat The Throng, took shape during this period. It's a beautiful document of time's slippery nature, a discrete measurement of hallucinatory experience. As Covid-19 forced us inside (both literally and figuratively), Mao reflected deeply on her process, emerging with a whole new musical lexicon. On earlier Hiro Kone records, a central rhythmic idea usually steadied the wobbling drones. Mao upends that propulsive lurch on Silvercoat The Throng, playing with time by allowing for the core elements of her sound to tumble over one another in intentional chaos. On "Stom," a gauzy melodic figure emerges from a buzzing drone and hangs in the air, only to dissipate against the sudden throb of a kick drum pattern. It threatens to break into an urgent bit of techno, but the drums never return. Instead, FM chords and wisps of digital noise bubble and crackle, flitting around the stereo field before retreating back into the haze. The song only lasts two minutes and 46 seconds, but each of its elements exists in its own space, creating a moment that neither begins nor ends. The album's centerpiece, "Reciprocal Capture" featuring Speaker Music (AKA DeForrest Brown, Jr.), similarly disentangles time and form. Set against Brown's randomized drum machine workout, Mao deploys glassy synth pads and uncanny valley vocals in cascading layers. The elements drift in and out of each other's space, coalescing at certain points and completely separating from one another within a matter of seconds. There's structure to be found, but only if you're actively looking for it. Like many songs on Silvercoat The Throng, "Reciprocal Capture" feels like hearing the ticking of the second hand on a clock that's out of view: time is indeed passing, but it's unclear where exactly one sits within it. In describing the process of creating Silvercoat The Throng, Mao says her guiding principle was to "resist the urge to fill the space." The record is by no means a minimal affair—it traverses the worlds of sound design, neoclassical, spoken word and mutant techno. It's beautiful and harrowing, falling apart and building anew. But it's also not maximalist. These genres and ideas are only hinted at, floating past each other as if in a zero-gravity environment. As the Covid-19 lockdown rearranged our concept of time, it also offered a chance to reevaluate our idea of presence. Without the unyielding guidance of a clock, everything has the space to breathe.
  • Tracklist
Mist To Petrifact 02. Mundus Patet 03. Nomad feat. travis 04. Reciprocal Capture feat. Speaker Music 05. Parting Phrase 06. Silvercoat The Throng feat. Muqata'a 07. Stom 08. Malady Of Duration