REVIEW: Nmesh – “Seagate® Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB (.860kg)”

Seagate® Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB (​.​860kg)

The creativity, ability, and knowledge of tools of the second (maybe one and a half?) generation of digital natives are reaching maturity. I’m talking about the kids who grew up with or at a fairly young age were exposed to not only computers, but what has proven to be more important from a cultural and social perspective: the Internet. The Internet has pushed music creation and creativity to a saturation point that has allowed genres to become r-selected species, existing in alcoves of common interest: frequently visited forums about nothing in particular or specific topics, bands, musicians, anything-really (including-things-you-never-wanted-to-see).

The effect is tremendous: aesthetics, techniques, ideas and styles that would have died from obscurity are reaching a critical mass. Not a critical mass in the sense that the genres of yesteryear would find at their inception, the kind that would lead to world tours, lots of ca$h, and ubiquitous fame; it’s the kind that creates a community just large enough to allow unfamiliar ideas the support and room to flourish and mature. It’s dozens of vital local music scenes in abstract; only forming on a physical level where the diaphragm of your speaker modulates the air that vibrates the tiny hairs in your ears, primarily existing on the hard drives and in the minds of the participants themselves. This is the world in which Nmesh, better than any other musician I know of in Louisville, exists and operates. The world of today and of social experiences that exist outside of meatspace.

The collection in question, “Seagate® Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB (.860kg),” is a monument of an individuals prolific creativity, discipline, development and obsession, documenting over a decade of Alex Koenig’s work as Nmesh. Over the course of the 360 track reverse chronological back-up Nmesh demonstrates a great understanding of dynamics, the stereo field (and how to best situate disparate sounds within it), and audio collage aesthetics.

It’s particularly interesting that many of the primary techniques used throughout the collection remain consistent; the deconstruction and reassembly of sampled material, often over synthesized percussion. The permutation of cultural spheres from which the samples are pulled is the main way various eras of Nmesh’s career can be identified. While the Internet, Pop, Television, and Video Game Cultures are clearly and thoroughly plundered in more recent material the deeper you get into The History of Nmesh the more obscure, harder to identify, and sparse the samples get, unless the samples in the earlier eras were pulled from more inherently musical material. Part of what makes the newer songs so interesting is the re-contextualization from a commercial context to a musical one and the skill with which Nmesh integrates the samples with the digitally synthesized material.

Starting with wholesale remixes (from the likes of Weezer, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Ween, and severely under-remembered/under-appreciated Louisville act Ayin), to the primarily synthesized beats sprinkled with samples-as-percussion-or-rhythmic-elements and eventually on to the contemporary era of dense sample assemblages, the progression of this collection reads like a musical version of The Hero’s Journey (or at least a journey of artistic self discovery). This isn’t an album to be listened to in its entirety (or an album at all really), especially not in one sitting (unless you have a solid collection of bedpans and nonperishable food goods on hand), but more a reference manual or an origin story, a guide to bring you up to speed with one of Louisville’s most exciting, prolific, and relevant musicians.

Listen for yourself here:

Nicholas Daniel a.k.a Nick Sturtzel a.k.a gigasturtz is half of improvisational electronic duo Exacta Cube and co-runs Louisville cassette label City State Tapes. His sounds can be heard here