- M.E.S.H. told me that he starts a project with a set of sounds or images in mind, a bit like the "mood boards" used in advertising. The text accompanying Hesaitix seems to be just this: "A laugh behind an evil curtain. A drummer that's cool and grotesque, a detuned siren. A brushfire under a full moon." The images conjured are potent and surreal—two good descriptors for M.E.S.H.'s music, incidentally—and are as good as any an entry point into his rich, complex second album. Other M.E.S.H. records—including his 2015 debut LP, Piteous Gate—were narrow beam; Hesaitix is the full spectrum.
The album's most striking tracks could be filed under "cool and grotesque drummer." They're club bangers, almost, full of fiendish layered percussion and squalling melody. M.E.S.H. demonstrated his dance floor chops on last year's Damaged Merc. The dance tracks here, with their extended structures and electro-like grooves, are on one level more conventional. "Search. Reveal." builds, drops and breaks down dramatically, then drops again—in other words, it supplies everything a dance floor might expect. On another level, though, it's weird as hell: the drum tones are dry and resonant, and the mix throbs with drone and squalling interference. The loping "Coercer" is even more claustrophobic. On "Mimic," a seemingly stable beat disintegrates into elegant Piteous Gate-style atmosphere.
There's an ambient side to Hesaitix—you could call these the "brushfire under a full moon" tracks—but it's an ambiguous kind of ambient, blurring the pastoral and the sci-fi, the soothing and the unsettling. Google Translate says that "Nemorum Incola" is Latin for "inhabitant of the woods"—the album was partly made in rural Panicale, Italy—and through the track's guttering chord clouds and piston hiss you can sometimes hear birdsong and cicadas. The theme is developed on "Blurred Cicada" I and II, the former foggy and mournful, the latter a calmer but darker pooling of pads and suggestive crackle. These feel like familiar sonic environments mediated through a screen; not the forest but a digital representation of it, flickering and treacherous.
Other bits of Hesaitix are harder to pin even on M.E.S.H.'s cryptic mood board. Like "2 Loop Trip," a weirdly funky assemblage of cavernous clank and stutter with vivid spatial jump-cuts. Or "Signal Ride Drum," where percussion chitters like a swarm of insects and the tempo twists in disorientating ways. In these moments, you have the feeling of being adrift in M.E.S.H.'s world, further from familiar landmarks than ever before.
01. Nemorum Incola
03. Blurred Cicada I
04. 2 Loop Trip
05. Search. Reveal.
06. Privileged Lord
08. Blurred Cicada II
09. Signal Ride Drum
10. Diana Triplex