With no prior context, M.E.S.H.'s new two-track EP for Black Ocean, Infra-Dusk/Infra-Dawn, is a bewildering listen. Its two tracks clock in at five minutes each, but both feel much longer, as they've been packed to the gills with percussion, polyrhythms, and ghostly, repeating melodies. Based on the drum patterns alone, the songs could be classified as "instrumental grime" or even "bass music," but the sound palette bears no real resemblance to either of those worlds. With its industrial whirs, thumps, and crashes, the music sounds like something alien and not of this world. In comparison, last year's Scythian EP (on PAN) was a relatively easy, smooth listen, not to mention a more humanistic and recognizable effort.
With the right context, however, what M.E.S.H. is doing with these two tracks becomes apparent. A member and resident of Berlin's Janus club night and artist collective, M.E.S.H.—alongside fellow residents Lotic and Kablam—has a very specific aesthetic and sound in mind. In an illuminating recent interview with biannual "contemporary culture magazine" 032c, the Janus crew explained its ethos: "... we're searching for a sound that doesn't exist," said founder Dan DeNorch, likening the group's approach to the post-everything, anything-goes aesthetic of DJs like Total Freedom. M.E.S.H. himself went on to explain that contrary to the way traditional club music (house, techno, and the like) is designed to be mixed together to the point where the end of one track is indistinguishable from the beginning of the next, "start[ing] and stop[ping] is a part of what we do."
"Starting and stopping" plays a central role in both "Infra-Dusk" and "Infra-Dawn," as each track has been constructed from a seemingly endless number of distinct, ever-so-slightly-different phrases. Admittedly, this makes them somewhat exhausting to listen to, but by the same token, also makes them endlessly fascinating. Like a puzzle box, the productions seem to reveal themselves anew with each listen; that being said, despite all their rhythmic complexity, the two tracks do lack somewhat, coming across more like technical or conceptual exercises rather than well-rounded listens. M.E.S.H. is clearly a talented producer with a novel vision, albeit one that is still in the process of evolving. Nevertheless, Infra-Dusk/Infra-Dawn is sure to appeal to the adventurous listener and, perhaps, to the even-more-adventurous DJ.