Producer M.E.S.H. on the Best in Books and Music in 2017

Berlin-based DJ and producer M.E.S.H. (James Whipple) on the books, events and music that made his year

Cergat, Earthmare: The Lost Book of Wars (gnOme, 2017)

A delirious and unsettling piece of theory-fiction weaving linguistics, theology, eastern Mediterranean history and the ‘violent hybridity’ of the figure of the barbarian. Cergat writes: ‘The secular digs itself a permanent place between the desert and the deluge […] at the mouth of the abyss.’


James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, 2017. Courtesy: Yale University Press

James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (Yale University Press, 2017)

Forget the Paleo Diet: Scott goes all the way in showing how early nomadic peoples in the Fertile Crescent were fitter, happier and more productive than the semi-enslaved ziggurat-builders of the ancient Mesopotamian cities. It’s actually a bit more nuanced than that: sedentism and domestication apparently occurred thousands of years before the Hobbesian state marshalled its surpluses. Most early peoples practiced a combination of both typically hunter-gatherer and sedentary survival (sur-thrive-al?) strategies.

Giorgio de Maria, The Twenty Days of Turin (W. W. Norton & Co, 2017)

A recently-translated weird horror novel from 1977 reflecting an era of ideological murder in Italy. Something mysterious is entrancing and killing the Turinese – in the background is a context of total social breakdown and a mysterious ‘Library’ where citizens publicly confess their secrets and tell on each other. It’s easy to ascribe a certain prescience to the book’s premise, and indeed its appearance in English 40 years later feels very timely: a sense of mental fog and mimetic possession seem to permeate everything in this book.


‘Finding Frances’, Nathan For You, Season 4 Final, 2017. Courtesy: Comedy Central

‘Finding Frances’, Nathan For You Season 4 Finale

One of the best and funniest shows of this decade caps its latest season with a feature-length episode that tests our credulity and empathy.

Схема, Loose & All

Схема is a rave in Kyiv, Ukraine that draws thousands while having an uncompromising booking policy. Loose is a festival in Ravenna, Italy that similarly connects the outer reaches of electronic music to a vibrant and activated dancefloor space. All is a new high-end club in Shanghai, China and an important part of the rapidly accelerating Chinese scene. Three inspiring places I DJed this year that are charting exciting territory beyond the dismal club industry and the confining contexts of experimental music.


Deena Abdelwahed, Klabb, 2017. Courtesy: InFiné 

Deena Abdelwahed, Klabb (InFiné 2017)

One of many great club records from 2017, Klabb from the Tunisian producer Deena Abdelwahed represents what is most exciting in dance music today — a totally driving, forward-moving, crystal-clear sound, communicating something of the producer’s own identity while probing new rhythmic zones and stylistic cross-currents. In this case it’s a record with very inventive musical qualities, unique syncopations and a lot of energy. The distribution of new ideas in club music can often feel dependent on hubs like Berlin and London, with ‘eclectic’ sounds filtering in from the periphery. But this model feels even more meaningless than usual lately as bracingly good club records seem to be flying by from every direction.

Main image: Deena Abdelwahed. Courtesy: InFiné

M.E.S.H. (James Whipple) is a producer and DJ based in Berlin. His second LP Hesaitix (2017) is now out on PAN Records, Berlin.

Most Read

Royal bodies, the ‘incel’ mindset and those Childish Gambino hot-takes: what to read this weekend
In further news: women wearing rainbow badges beaten in Beijing’s 798; gallerists Georg Kargl and Richard Gray have...
‘Coping as a woman in France is a daily battle: the aggression can be subtle, and you always have to push harder to...
The rapper and artist have thoughts about originality in art; Melania Trump tries graphic design – all the latest...
The dilapidated Nissen hut from which Rachel Whiteread will take a cast
Yorkshire residents complain that the concrete sculpture of a ‘Nissen hut’ will attract excrement, vandalism and litter
Poul Erik Tøjner pays tribute to Denmark’s most important artist since Asger Jorn
Toyin Ojih Odutola’s portraits of a fictional aristocratic Nigerian family push toward an expanded definition...
Photographer Dragana Jurisic says her account was deactivated after she uploaded an artwork depicting a partially naked...
In further news: open letter protests all-male shortlist for BelgianArtPrize; Arts Council of Ireland issues...
From Sol Calero’s playful clichés of Latin America to an homage to British modernist architect Alison Smithson
Everybody’s favourite underpaid, over-educated, raven-haired art critic, Rhonda Lieberman, is as relevant as ever
‘Prize & Prejudice’ at London's UCL Art Museum is a bittersweet celebration of female talent
The curators want to rectify the biennale’s ‘failure to question the hetero-normative production of space’; ‘poppers...
A fragment of the brutalist Robin Hood Gardens will go on show at the Venice Architecture Biennale
‘Women's role in shaping the history of contemporary art is being reappraised’
Three shows in Ireland celebrate the legendary polymath, artist and author of Inside the White Cube
The legendary performance artists will partner up again to detail their tumultuous relationship in a new book
An open letter signed by over 100 leading artists including 15 Turner prize-winners says that new UK education policy...
Naturists triumph at art gallery; soothing students with colouring books; Kanye’s architectural firm: your dose of art...
Avengers: Infinity War confirms the domination of mass culture by the franchise: what ever happened to narrative...
The agency’s founder talks about warfare in the age of post truth, deconstructing images and holding states and...
From hobnobbing with Oprah to championing new art centres, millennial crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is following a...
A juror for the award last year, Dan Fox on why the Turner Prize is and always will be political (whatever that means)
The argument that ancestral connection offers a natural grasp of the complex histories and aesthetics of African art is...
One of most iconic and controversial writers of the past 40 years, Tom Wolfe discusses writing, art and intellectual...

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

March 2018

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018