Drew McDowall (ex-Coil, Psychic TV, DAIS Records)
Hiro Kone (DAIS Records)
For this third release on Dais, Drew McDowall reaches into concept, ritual, and immersion, in an exercise of unravelling the DNA of hallucination. The Third Helix is McDowall’s product of deconstructive exploration, twisting the fibers of being into new structure, shape, pattern, and pulse, without reconstituting its inscribed template.
The result is a true “third act,” in McDowall’s career, that has seen him peregrinate from the late-’70s art-punk of the trio Poems to his work with Psychic TV and Coil throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, into his current home of New York City, where he has composed with CSD, Compound Eye, as well his solo work. That triangulation is central to The Third Helix, as it begins with his dive into the existence of a sensory toolkit unique to McDowall before twisting faculties and reconfiguring consciousness by honoring inherent power, cognizant of memory yet agnostic of context.
With the tenet that journey is rarely linear, but rather an omnipresent oscillation of matter, sound is stripped to salient and primal, propelled by McDowall’s boring into the core of memory and impulse, suturing together the silent awareness of excogitating experience.
Featuring eight new tracks of McDowall’s dark, experimental electronics, including the opener “Rhizome”, The Third Helix is a churning descent into emotion, provoking thought and reflection while carving out haunting space only to fill it with baffling and wondrous structures of layered sound. McDowall solidifies himself as an architect who transforms otherworldly materials into something fascinating and challenging in the process.
Unnerving, trancelike anthems for nervous meditation and anxious relaxation. Fans of Coil will immediately connect and immerse, while the complex compositions are a welcome listen for drone and ambient enthusiasts.
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.