“A sound can be both formless and over-rendered,” producer M.E.S.H. claims in a press release, “like a boneless but fleshy hand from a life drawing class.” If that’s a metaphor for the state of underground electronic music, it’s an apt one: the scene has been awash with deliberately obtuse experiments for years, often under the banner of “deconstructed club music.”
Though that term has been applied to M.E.S.H.’s music, it’s not completely accurate. Since his 2014 breakthrough, Scythians, the music James Whipple makes as M.E.S.H. has explored both the functional needs of the club and the expressive power of abstraction, challenging assumptions about dual premises that are often viewed as an either-or proposition. On Hesaitix, he proves how limiting those premises are.
On 2015’s Piteous Gate, M.E.S.H. applied the techniques of Scythians to sonic world building, contemplating information overload with an arsenal of broken drums and pneumatic instrumentation. 2016’s Damaged Merc EP followed Newton’s third law, reacting to those paranoid soundscapes with a handful of club-ready reconstructions that overwhelmed the senses.
Hesaitix is the culmination and evolution of those works, building an abstract, techno-organic world but from within the club. That’s apparent from the first track, “Nemorum Incola,” which lives up to its title (Latin for “the inhabitants of forests”), mixing bird calls and machine hum as if a mecha is exploring the jungle in three dimensions. The mecha cuts back the brush to reveal “Mimic,” a layered composition that sees a three-note melody mutate to rhythm of organic hand drums and a fractured two-step shuffle before everything falls apart.
That creation and destruction is apparent throughout the album, as individual tracks serve as self-contained experiments in juxtaposition, whether it’s the polyrhythmic battle of “2 Loop Trip” or the chainsaw synths and robotic call and response of “Search. Reveal.” Yet the experimental flourishes do not undermine the propulsive drive of the album: “Coercer” is noisy techno hypnosis, “Diana Triplex” is seductive with something lurking beneath the groove, and “Signal Ride Drum” moves through space like a rollercoaster inside a drum machine.
The ride eventually ends, with the gorgeous, Baroque chords of “Ihnaemiauimx.” Not only does it call back Piteous Gate’s beatless “Jester’s Visage,” but it closes the album on a somber, meditative note as we leave this lush—and fully constructed—world M.E.S.H. has created.