Photos by Henrik Hellström

Nicky Mao is a New York-based musician and producer that we’ve written about earlier on here, with the release of her latest album as Hiro Kone. On Friday she performed a new unique piece at Inkonst as a part of the Intonal festival of experimental music and art. Mao has been in Malmö for a while, completing a residency at the Inkonst venue.

After releasing Silvercoat the Throng for Dais last year, Mao has continued to explore the effects of the pandemic. That album was completed in isolation and in a recent interview for Hymn, she has explained that the move online has taken up a lot of her thoughts and process: “When everything is exposed online and our lives become dependent on that, it’s only natural to question what we’re really seeing and experiencing”.

For Intonal she created the new piece Disruption and Epokhē, which was performed for the first time ever in the Inkonst black box on Friday. It’s a long piece that feels like a companion-piece to the album, while also being less fragmented. It follows a natural path of development over more than 30 minutes and breaks into club-like moments with effervescent beats.

The new instrumental piece, played live from a hardware setup, is partly inspired by the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler who passed away in 2020. About the pandemic, he said: “it should be an opportunity to revalue the silence, the rhythms that we give ourselves…”. That absence of sound plays an important part of the new Hiro Kone set, which I hope you will all be able to hear in its entirety soon, because it was an amazing show.

Later the same evening I was lucky enough to catch the invigorating performance by Fulu Miziki all the way from Kinshasa. The musical group is based around Pisco Crane, who has worked hard to create his own genre since 1999. The music of Fulu is built around the sound of found items and the recycling of anything discarded by the people. The drum kit has fuel jugs instead of toms, to give you an idea of the aesthetic.

Performing at the big stage of Intonal, it’s incredible how rich and full their sound is, although they don’t play a single conventional instrument. The home-made electric guitars and bass sound better than cheap Fender copies and the energy in the room is palpable. Within minutes, the whole crowd is dancing and chanting along with the lyrics.

The stage outfits of the group are something to behold – embracing a retro-futurist style, they’ve made their own costumes and masks that apply plenty of gold and silver. Coming across like a cross between Daft Punk and Tim Burton, they’ve got flashing LED lights, silver horns and brandish crude instruments. The masks come off half-way through the set, revealing a group of musicians who are thrilled to be alive and able to tour the world with their pressing ecological messaging.

In 2019, Fulu Miziki performed internationally for the first time – headlining the Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda. Earlier this year they finally released their debut EP Ngbaka which is available through London label Moshi Moshi. Definitely worth a listen even if the music is done better justice by their visceral live performance.

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