STM 246 - Hiro Kone

Nicky Mao aka Hiro Kone - music artist

Photo by Lena Shkoda

Hiro Kone records a boundless mix full of subtle abstractions, post-punk mutations and classical daydreams for your weekend.


Hiro Kone has been around for a while, but 2017 was really the year people took notice. Behind the Iroquois phrase for ‘I have spoken’ stands American musician Nicky Mao - an outsider spirit who spent most of her childhood with one foot in the US and the other in Hong Kong. This formative experience seems to have trickled down in many ways, one of which is the outlandish quality felt in most of her music. Her latest record, the Love is The CapitalLP released by the wonderful Geographic North, is merely one example. Through it, Hiro Kone invites people to step away from their subjectivity and conceive of themselves as part of an all-encompassing ecosystem. It is certainly a political record, inspired by such thinkers as Timothy Morton or British documentarian Adam Curtis, yet it is also a spacious and gentle record. Its very diverse tracklist combines many styles and ideas, joined together by soft angles and silences. When comparing her previous works (brilliant in their own way) to this LP, it becomes immediately obvious how much she has learned over the years in terms of shaping sound. Undoubtedly this is something we will have more evidence of with the release of her collaborative album with Drew McDowall, The Ghost of Georges Bataille, on March 28.

Secret Thirteen Mix 246 is like a box of precious and extraordinary jewels, each with a character entirely of its own. Hiro Kone accentuates the uniqueness of each track by cutting them down to concise fragments, and conjures up a path through them in colourful sections. The mix is lush with the intensity of noise and the melancholy of the piano, it goes from the mellow alternate reality of Oto Hiax to the oppressive sounds of Iranian visionary Alireza Mashayekhi, gritty experimental post-punk from Forests, or the crisp atmospherics of Z’EV. There is also a compelling track from the upcoming Hiro Kone & Drew McDowall album weaved in at the end. It’s a surreal compilation that carries an unexpected emotional charge. By no means is the trip inaccessible, but it does demand a high degree of mindfulness to be enjoyed to its fullest. Hiro Kone’s mix is reminiscent of Stanley Boxer’s work, such as his abstract masterpiece Primpsofair - so rich in tone and defiant of the limitations of form, stepping through boundaries organically and gently, constantly evolving.


01. Brett Naucke - Youth Organ [Spectrum Spools, Mar. 2018]
02. Ligature - Cessation [New Forces, 2017]
03. Maurizio Bianchi + Ryan Martin - As Unyielding As She’ol Is [Backwards, 2016]
04. Ryuichi Sakamoto - Ubi [Milan Records, 2017]
05. Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown - Paresseuse Aussi [Crammed Discs, 1985]
06. Art Ensemble of Chicago - Proverbes (I) [Nessa Records, 1979]
07. George Chua - Unearth [Anomia, 2018]
08. Oto Hiax - Roaming Fold [Self-released, 2015]
09. Forests - Pale Fire [Self-release, 2015]
10. Cube - First [Left Hand Path, 2016]
11. Daphne Oram - Episode Metallic [Paradigm Discs, 2007]
12. Group A - T.O.P. [Mannequin, 2017]
13. Pedestrian Deposit - A Cold Harvest [Monorail Trespassing, 2015]
14. Grischa Lichtenberger - 001_1215_06_re1115 26 1b [Raster-Noton, 2016]
15. Yves De Mey - Ostia [Spectrum Spools, 2016]
16. JH1.FS3 - Far From Spring [Self-released, 2017]
17. Alireza Mashayekhi - Shur, Op. 15 [Sub Rosa, 2007]
18. Z’EV - Fény [Cold Spring 2015]
19. Valise - Private Numbers [DEVINE, 2017]
20. Soren Roi - Odg [Self-released, 2018]
21. E-Saggila - Idle Jaguar [Opal Tapes, 2017]
22. Nene Hatun - Ascetism [Bedouin Records, 2017]
23. Drew McDowall x Hiro Kone - Dreaming Is Nursed In Darkness [BANK Records NYC, Mar. 2018]
24. Wetware - Ode To Joe [Dais Records, Feb. 2018]
25. Horoscope - Common Ground [Ascetic House, 2017]
26. LXV - Floral Scepter [Phinery, 2017]
27. Caroline K - Animal Lattice [Klanggalerie, Remastered 2015, orig 1987]

About Author

Tadas Švenčionis is a Secret Thirteen editor and journalist. He organizes the occasional event in Lithuania and is obsessed with the harsh, the sad, the delirious, and the political.

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