Nmesh, the project of Kentucky-based producer (and former drummer) Alex Koenig,
crafted the instrumental electronic dance jams of Illuminasia (Nmesh, 2002). The best ones exude a cinematic quality, a constant changing and evolving,
like 80 Baby (7:57), that morphs from chill-out tone to a cheerful uplifting mood, and Amneisa (7:13), whose ambient hypnosis is not static.
He shows dj dexterity in the
intricate beats of the first half of In The Red (8:18),
and compositional creativity when he
turns Morton Subotnik's early electronic experiments into ethereal dance steps in Rotation (9:31) and when he sets in motion the
robotic and radioactive ballet Thai Kwon Dro (8:14).
After the 20 brief vignettes of Neolithik (Nmesh, 2003),
mostly one or two minutes long,
and largely leaving behind the dancefloor dimension,
he further refined his production technique on
Elastic Ocean (Nmesh, 2004).
If Umen (13:23) tries a bit too hard to tell a story, with frequent
changes of tone,
and the cosmic music of Cmello (9:19) is, on the contrary, a bit trivial,
there are moments of great sophistication in
Drifting (8:51), a melody whispered by a xylophone
which goes beyond dreamy, barely breathing, slowly awakened by jungle sounds,
in the abrasive vibration of In A Sleepy Constant (9:14),
and in the softly tribal and subtly melodic The Sky Is Burning (Ambient Version) (7:46).
The centerpiece of Absolut Hell (Nmesh, 2004) is the
seven-minute new-age mantra A Rainbow Descending Into Hell.
Cloud Nine (Nmesh, 2009) returned to the dancefloor with mediocre
the steady house beat of The Romantic Void (Future Kill Dub) (7:40)
and the ballad By The Window (7:27).
God? Awful (Nmesh, 2009) continued in that misguided vein with
overlong and confused tracks like The Sound That Bytes (9:00) and Extended Kill (8:25) and trivial ones like
trivial Your Master (8:29), despite the
intriguing Sonic Headphone Heroin (6:07) showing much more creative
The same year yielded
a collaboration with Albinotron, Fair & Balanced Music
After a four-year hiatus, Nmesh suddenly reemerged as a champion of
the vaporwave genre that had just become popular.
Nu.wav Hallucinations (2013) was more original than the average
because the feeling of nostalgia was authentic (neither parodistic nor
ideological) and because the highly-processed samples and psychedelic overtones
of the best pieces were light-years more sophisticated than most
of the trivial sample-based songs of the competition.
Check what Berlin's Take My Breath Away (1986) becomes in
The Goose is Loose and what
Murray Head's One Night In Bangkok (1984) in Bangkok Nites.
Soon Enough massacres the original rhythm of the Smiths' How Soon Is Now (1984) and turns it into a sinister locomotive, and
In/Door/Fun turns three old songs into a percussive instrument.
There also brief gags that Frank Zappa would appreciate, like Eat the Eggs.
Last but not least, Nmesh dispensed with the silly vogue of Japanese-language titles.
Nonetheless, 29 sample-based songs is probably 20 too many.
Nmesh ends up using simpler and simpler methods,
simply slowing down the original, like Billy Idol's Eyes Without a Face (1983) in A Face Without Eyes, or recycling a famous theme, like Kenny G's Songbird (1986) in Nuthin' But A Thang
or the theme of the television series "I Dream of Jeannie" (1965)
in Neon Dreams Forever.
The sprawling, 70-minute
Dream Sequinsr (Amdiscs, 2014) starts from the same premise but gets
more visionary in the way
it reinterprets the originals, often more than one in an individual piece.
And, while the previous album was a case of "impressionistic" sampling, this one
tends to be more melodramatic.
The cryptic overture Neon Dreams Infinity, that sounds like a speech from
a sci-fi horror movie, segues into the smooth pop-jazz of Keep This,
Selena's I Could Fall in Love (1995),
Ken Kato's Utopia Windows Exit (1998) and an old theme from
Monty Python's Flying Circus.
A similar effect is achieved in
Dream Sequinsr, which conflates a mellow pop ballad and a dreamy spoken-word snippet.
The eleven-minute Just A Simple Thing samples
three songs and three movie soundtracks until only a confused muffled hiss is left.
Moving to more energetic pieces,
Rainforest Suiter V1.3 blends the theme of the videogame "The Legend of Zelda Overworld" Daler Mehndi's Indian pop hit Tunak Tunak Tun (1998) the O Band's Endorfun (1995) in a jungle atmosphere.
AvonNiteMare Liquid Mascara (perhaps the album's standout) drowns
Avon commercials in a jelly of drones, echoes and vocal fragmnets.
Nmesh also dares in a way that he didn't before.
The radio transmission of Mas Abajo En La Madriguera Del Conejo seem
to come from inside a hallucinated mind,
and the "acid" trip of The Gull Wing Doors Of Perception
is a slow vortex of unidentifiable samples.
While it exceeds its welcome, the 13-minute The Unconscious Connection
sounds like another attemp at documenting an extrasensorial experience.
The danceable loop of Climbing The Corporate Ladder
and especially the aquatic loop of Memories Return
are more in the "impressionistic" vein of the previous album.
In fact, the slowly revolving drones of Deep Coma Skky Diving
recall some of his early ambient experiments.
While less user-friendly than
Nu.wav Hallucinations, this album is more "art" than novelty.
Path to Lost Eden (Dream Catalogue, 2015) contains
14 tracks by Nmesh and 6 for Telepath.
The Nmesh side is dominated by an ambient and exotic languor, with the
notable exception of the high drama of Anti-tech Majestic Beauty
and the slightly horror (and mostly spoken-word) Dusk is Coming.
The peak of the ambient exotic mode comes with
Upstream Floating, in which
crickets and a deep rumble announce some kind of apocalypse.
Unfortunately, the spoken-word snippets often ruin the atmosphere of
the ambient pieces.
Taking liberties with the vaporwave aesthetic,
Pharma (Orange Milk , 2017) erupts with a much more aggressive
sound: the industrial techno dance of N1N1, followed by
the spastic carillon of Fall Any Vegetable,
and by tribal drumming, collages of found voices, and plenty of plain noise.
The first major composition to stand on its own is the eight-minute frenzied African dance White Lodge Simulation.
Besides radio broadcasts and other assorted spoken-word samples,
Nmesh indulges in several more or less psychedelic moments
(PBS Ancillary Rack Room, Weed Jesus).
The album is also littered with Frank Zappa-esque gags, culminating with
the nine-minute collage-suite Mall Full Of Drugs in which pretty
much anything that could happen happens (and the nine minutes are followed
by a few more minutes of fragments of the same kind).
The mock-orchestral melody Cocktails in Space and the smooth jazz lullaby Twilight Meridian are surprisingly straight-forward in such a chaotic album.
However, two hours of material (and such diverse and incoherent material)
is probably one hour too much for Nmesh.