Danceable industrial rhythms from the recent Drew McDowall collaborator.
The way Mao directs her beats gives Pure Expenditure a sense of purpose, distinguishing it from the airier tunes on her stellar first album, 2017's Love Is The Capital. Here, the rhythms often shape the arc of a track. This is most effective on longer cuts such as "Scotch Yoke (Parts I & II)," in which a hammering beat is at first dominant, but then gradually spawns thick, atmospheric sounds. What seemed simple turns into something dense and mysterious. A similar alchemy occurs on the title track, the LP's most multi-faceted beat, which inspires a tornado of metallic effects.
Tracks like those make it easy to think of Pure Expenditure as a non-stop rhythmic workout. But Mao is also adept at textural experiments. "Poortgebouw" is almost purely atmosphere, with shifting drones passing across each other like tectonic plates. There is a minimal beat on "Disoccupation Of The Sphere," but, as it skims the track's undulating synth waves, it seems to produce foamy trails. A less successful outlier is "Outside The Axiom," a more conventionally structured track, and the only track on Pure Expenditure with prominent vocals. It's hard to fault Mao for trying something different from the rest of the album, but Pure Expenditure is strongest when it's really letting off steam.