Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Nmesh’s 2017 release Pharma further asserted the artist as a powerful force. Using drugs and detachment as it’s focal point, the two-sided album acts as a wide-reaching landscape for signs and signals to float and dive as ghostly reconstruction. The artist’s often abrasive and explicitly freeform production style stimulates the subject matter. Simultaneously comedic, satirical, austere and awful, Nmesh’s work is the equivalent of cracking through a wall that’s been layered and lacquered with different graffiti for an eternity. You’re never quite sure what will erupt, and it feels like the narrative isn’t that aware either.
Mall Full of Drugs appears around halfway through the first side of the album. A sonic shrine to the gloriously grotesque depiction of drugs in the contemporary world, positioned directly next to the hallucinogenic quality of inebriates itself. A painfully slow ride in a sleek plastic cart through the maelstrom of preventative propaganda and on through the nucleus of a drug itself.
And now, as the curtain closes on another year in this evermore hallucinatory world, Nmesh let’s loose an array of artists to twist and superimpose whatever they may on the 9-minute song in the form of remixes. This is Drug Full of Remixes.
The Obama420 Schalke remix blasts us quickly into a murky CGI vista. A recognisable sample from the source material zaps across the plane. The track builds up into a delightfully heavy sequence. The synths employed zap and screech, speeding alongside the fast-paced beat. Radio signals buzz and crackle momentarily before we find ourselves at another precipice. Again, winding and whirring leads us into a huge percussive explosion. This time fit with hammering, rock-inspired cymbals and snare crashing steadily as air horns sound above the stereo field. This remix is essentially a 3 in 1. We speed through a wormhole of samples towards another perfectly executed build-up. This time, no bass drum straight away. Instead a snare and hi-hat set a speedy pace for the bass drum to follow suit. A unique and bombastic take on the song opens the last third of our journey.
Drohnwerks bathes the listener in silence, contradicted only by distant sounds and a crackling nearby. It’s as if we’ve come to miles away from the event we were at before, vermin scuttle by and the sounds of an apocalyptic city boom from the horizon. A deep bass sound emanates from all around. It’s hard to hear what’s been pulled from Nmesh’s original. Is the ambience merely slowed down sampling? Is the digitised scuttling a corrupted and distorted clip from Mall Full of Drugs? It’s impossible to tell. Unmistakably eerie, Drohnwerks conveys complete isolation; possibly even speaking to the gnawing withdrawal of a stronger drug than those usually done for fun. Feelings of loneliness are almost unavoidable as a ghostly screeching appears at the back end of the track. Its hard to know or guess at what world had we been transported to for just over 6 minutes.
For fdsdf‘s remix a combination of deep, ethereal sound meets booming bass drums and dissonant noise. A soothing tune weaves like a snake through the remnants of corrupted samples and stuttered speech. A beautiful, pristine and incredibly speedy Jungle beat wades through the sound. Each snare and hi-hat sounding crisp and hypnotic. The melody dips and dives through the onslaught of percussion. A heavy, commanding bass line hammers each beat down with precision. The cacophony dissipates, only for a screaming voice to bring us back into the Jungle rhythm. The atmosphere has as Photek-like quality to it, somehow the artist manages to make the track a ravenous, chaos-hungry Jungle excursion and a tranquil, almost spiritual journey at the same time.
Snitchnau begins with glittery arpeggios and crystalline pads. This doesn’t last for long however. The track glitches and stalls, and like a sickening rollercoaster into the underworld, plunges us swiftly into a bassy nightmare. A voice raps repeatedly as a mix of atmospheric sound and air horns can barely be heard under the overpowering bass. The track moves into a shattered mess of chattering voices and lasergun fire. The noise ebbs away for a while. A grainy drum loop gives a perfect platform for sound bites to glide in and out of focus. The back end of the track soaks us in pineal juices and then drags us into one last rhythm with a trappy bass sound and rapid fire hi-hats.
The effervescent tones of a female voice push each beat forward as Daniel Saylor welcomes us to his remix. A fully formed wave of crystallised sound washes over and around us. The repetitive sound of birdsong keeps the rhythm, which slowly builds with the help of a trickling hi-hat. Soundbites appear directly in front of us as the cushion-like waves continue to wash back and forth. A bass tone hits and does not relent as a hurried drum beat keeps time desperately. The vocalised impulse to smoke a joint is repeated again and again as the muddy bassline blasts its way through and clears the euphoric debris. A more disjointed beat begins towards the end, with snare sounds that appear in pairs.
Kuwait Paragraphic‘s remix crawls around the landscape at the very start. The original version’s bassline begins as voice samples and other sound effects wheel about it chaotically. A heavy, watery bass sequence ensues and it takes a while before we realise that it is a percussive sample slowly unfurling itself. The maelstrom slowly relents revealing carefully positioned choir samples. A stalwart bassline drives the narrative of the remix. With no real percussive elements, save for a cymbal, the artist decides to explore the melodic potential of Nmesh’s creation. With a steadily arpeggiating synth and the voices whirling around like a revolving door, Kuwait Paragraphic’s take is one steeped in texture.
Enofa wins the coveted title of the only remix to be longer than the original. This doesn’t sound impressive until you start to conjugate how long 10 minutes is for a song. The artist wastes little of this time. The remix swiftly falls into a beautiful sequence of sweeping, high-pitched euphoria and rapid drum samples. This section almost feels like a numb marijuana high on a hot summer day, or the creeping suspicion of a magic mushroom high. The pads dive, sounding translucent and otherworldly. A deep bass knocks the section off its hinges. It shakes the track’s foundation as we dive fully into the yawning bass and the incoming trip. Choral voices sit deep in the mix behind shifting sounds that echo almost endlessly. And suddenly we are snapped sharply from the vision. A curt blast of radio static and a dog barking transports us from the scene. A much more intimidating section begins with staccato samples and light drumming against arbitrary objects that then transform into a full drum kit. Again Enofa snatches us from the atmosphere that was slowly formulating. The sounds wind down, and that familiar female vocal breathes an attention-grabbing stillness to the track. We come to a deep, echoing trench. Hanging over it only for a moment, we then find ourselves sitting in a sun-soaked living room listening to old, trebly radio broadcasts. Blasted from that scene almost instantly, we find ourselves in a retro-futurist wormhole of early 00s anti-drug propaganda. What follows this is a sample from cult British show Red Dwarf detailing a ‘voyage to trip-out city’. Its fascinating to see how the artists have proceeded to use the concept Nmesh originally thought up and bring in their own soundbites. The track ends with wheezy comedic trumpet playing and pitched up wails from drug-addled souls.
Clutter Goth‘s remix begins with a troublingly deep bass tone as we wade through shallow water in a vibrant and thriving natural atmosphere slowly being assembled around us. As if our brain has suddenly succumb to the pull of the hallucinogenics, we find ourselves falling swiftly face first into the water and into another dimension. Clutter Goth achieves this perfectly with a mix of a crystalline sample contrasting a heavy and earthy drum sequence. The sequence almost sounds as if its trying to come to life, almost sentient moans and groans fly out from it as it lumbers forward like some wounded android. It skulks away, and we are left with remnants of voices and sounds until a metallic melody begins. Sounding simple and almost welcoming, once again Clutter Goth combines a feeling of quaint beauty with heavy and intimidating percussive sequencing. This graceful synergy brings us to the end of the track where we are hit with yet another drumbeat just before the fade out.
Flies buzz at the start of Bleech‘s edit as the phrase ‘brainwave activity’ repeats itself. Another portal back to the 00s opens up, this time slightly corrupted. Even the propaganda now has become infested with errors and synaptic alterations. It closes instantaneously. And we are left swishing our hands in cool water. An icy sound eases itself in setting a cool and tranquil atmosphere. Echoed cries almost sound like dolphins coming from beneath the shallow pool as ice water splashes against the listeners ears. A cacophony of drums and calls from another plane of consciousness slowly build in the surroundings as somewhat industrial sounds mesh easily with the natural. The more percussive sounds fade into nothing, and the tranquil euphoria begins to control the track. The feeling is one of overwhelming peace and tranquility. A complete contrast to the somewhat arbitrary way the track began.
We end with Cubus. A grey fog falls over us as we lay bruised and beaten by all the tracks before. Flashes appear all around us, but the layer of echoed sound shrouds like fog and does not permit us to see the full form of anything. An austere take on Nmesh’s original, we find ourselves adrift. Not tripping out in any immediate or intense way, but awash with ethereal plumes of grey nothingness. Certain tones and sounds hang in the air in front of us. It becomes impossible to identify melody from percussion. The artist’s employed in this remix compilation have made it their duty to stretch the boundaries of the source material so far, that the final take on the track is unbelievably poignant and affecting. Much like Drohnwerks remix, its difficult to identify what was used from Mall Full of Drugs in this track. But the boundless chasm that is enshrined before us is the perfect closer to a perfect journey.
Drugs are possibly one of the most interesting and enticing set of vices that exist for humans. The political context of prohibition and opposition almost seems ridiculous when we acknowledge the largely accepting and even welcoming experience drugs enjoy on a more social level. A substance that allows the powers that be to detain anyone they feel the urge to at will is the same substance that the powers that be use to escape their own existence. Everyone on this earth interacts with drugs at some point in their lives. Nmesh’s decision to approach the topic in Pharma is not one entirely borne from the existential experience of drugs themselves, nor is the album a mere giggling nudge of Cheech & Chong (though the comedic value of drugs does feature). The social powers of drugs, their tendency to consume, manipulate and pleasure those that partake, as well as their treatment by authority are all meshed into the track he originally made.
In this album we see a host of artists stretch the idea out even more. They integrate their own personal experiences, their own understanding of criminalisation and deterrence.
From the endless reaches of a genre like Drone Ambient, to the surprisingly substantial amount of influence from genres like Garage and Jungle, the album is an absolute pleasure to listen to. The collection drips with skill and talent, it oozes production value from every orifice, and above all else it is free to download and absolutely unmissable.
Download in full here: http://nmesh.bandcamp.com/album/drug-full-of-remixes