(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )

Illuminasia (2002), 6/10
Neolithik (2003), 4/10
Elastic Ocean (2004), 6/10
Absolut Hell (2004), 5/10
Cloud Nine (2009), 4/10
God? Awful (2009), 4.5/10
Fair & Balanced MusicNu.wav Hallucinations (2013), 6/10
Dream Sequins (2014), 6.5/10
Path to Lost Eden (2015), 5/10 (the Nmesh side)
Pharma (2017), 6/10

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 numbers like 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 alternatives.

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 Sequins (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, which mixes 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 Sequins, 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.

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