You wake up on a cold, metallic surface. You stand up, look around, and see that you are surrounded by compact corridors formed by unknown pieces of machinery forged together. Star-less blackness. As you navigate the cramped passageways, cogs turn, engines exhale, and pistons roar with life. Is that the someone’s shadow at the end of the hallway? It disappears, so you sprint to attempt to catch up with it, but there is nothing. Are you alone in this place?
Things are about to get a bit darker, a little more eerie, and lot more interesting. Piteous Gate is the newest full-length from sonic explorer James Whipple, also known as M.E.S.H. At the surface level, this record is a jarring expedition through the far-off capabilities of experimental electronics. However, when one fixates their attention on the sounds dwelling within the seemingly-collapsing mechanics, something beautiful emerges.
The “songs” contained in this baffling record are discordant at times, but they never cross the threshold into abrasive territory. When it comes to Whipple’s production approach, no timbre or sample is off-limits. Robotic tones lurk within cavernous atmospheres and arise from the cloudy murk in varying degrees with diverse results. Sublime melodies are hinted at, only to be immersed in bombastic rhythm.
The fact that these pieces of music are so difficult to pin down happens to be their most captivating trait. Experiencing this record is more akin to examining a developing alien world than listening to a collection of composed songs. Perhaps the thing that Whipple does best is encompassing the perplexing, overwhelming experience of living in a digital age. If you’re seeking mind-expanding experimental electronics, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)