Look, 2017 was a garbage year and I think we’d all just rather move on. Nazis roamed the streets, giant hurricanes ravaged densely populated areas, half of California is on fire, all of your favorite people who didn’t die last year got outed as sex offenders, and President Donald Trump managed to gut social programs and mortgage our children’s futures so he could give the 1-percenters a tax cut they absolutely do not need. Worst of all, Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, giving the Minnesota Freakin’ Vikings the opportunity to be the first team to play in a home-field Super Bowl. The silver lining? Well, we’re not in a nuclear war, so that’s good at least. Anyway, I guess some good music was released this year, and as usual my “year-end” list is not so much a list at all as it is a haphazard lumping of various albums that I mostly already wrote about. I do not really have an album of the year, usually when I declare such a thing I wind up wondering what the hell I was thinking a couple weeks later. But there was a lot of good stuff, most of which I haven’t heard, but hey. Only so many hours in the day. So here are my end-of-the-year awards – as usual, links to better, more well-thought out opinions when they exist:
“I liked the idea of a seamless, uninterrupted ‘trip’ as opposed to the conventional methods of mixing or laying out an album. Every bit of audio from movies/TV/radio was at my disposal and there were no holds barred — as my idols best put it, “we can plunder the waste bins of time” and that’s exactly what I did. I sampled and wrecked everything under the sun.”
One would think this quote pertains to Pharma, when it fact it was about a mix done in 2002 called Peel Blue Equinox. Alex Koenig, a.k.a. Nmesh (the “e” is silent) was in high school at the time, and Peel Blue was simply the first entry in what would quickly become a lengthy and diverse catalogue. Certainly his chops have improved in the meantime; Nmesh has the sort of discography that gets better and better the further down you go. But his “sample and wreck it” attitude has largely remained the same, going from distending Weezer songs until they’re completely unrecognizable to chopping and screwing Barbie commercials.
Here’s what I like about Nmesh: he’s old. Or, rather, he’s old enough. In the nostalgia-fueled, archeological dig of a genre that is vaporwave, it’s a shock to see how young some of its more famous names are: Vektroid and Saint Pepsi were literally toddlers when Windows 95 was released, and the first cassettes they’ve bought may have very well been their own. Nmesh (the ‘m’ is silent), real name Alex Koenig, is a different beast: bearded, bald, and tatted up, he resembles someone you’d expect to see in a metal band. Perhaps a dork at heart but certainly not someone afraid to show his face. Nmesh dates all the way back to 2001, which (I’m guessing) was sometime around his 17th birthday, often teetering between “Transmissions from Outer Space”-style trips and grindy IDM stuff. Granted, I’ve only heard a small percentage of his work – his back catalogue is huge, containing not only a zillion albums and EPs, but also a 360-track compilation of outtakes, produced-bys, and remixes. Some of it good, some of it strange, most of it very amusing. The fact that this guy stumbled into vaporwave is interesting to me, since it feels like such a natural direction for guys like him to go.