Decoding Absence – The Mesarthim Enigma


Beeeep beep beep beep beeeep beep beeeep beep beep.

I, along with many others, have been jamming the new Mesarthim album since its surprise release on Sunday. If you missed the news in Monday’s news post and podcast, or our review of their first album (which, in my opinion, is lacking at least one additional flaming toilet), they are a mysterious duo out of Australia making some outrageously awesome space themed black metal. Mesarthim, in the astrophysical realm, is a binary star system in the Aries constellation, if you were curious.

.- -… … . -. -.-. . (or Absence, for the Morse illiterate) is yet another exceptional album that deserves your 1+ dollar(s). Despite their complete lack of promotion, they somehow had about 100 supporters within the first 8 hours of the release. It’s that good. But we’re not here to talk about the music. In choosing to use Morse Code for the title and song names, they seem intent upon challenging us with their veiled nature. Of course, if you can see the dots and dashes on a screen, you can easily pop them into an online translator and find out what they mean. Our own Lacertilian did this for the TovH Facebook Group, finding the title of the album and that the track names are simply 1-6. What turned out to be significantly harder was translating the beeps and slightly longer beeeps in the last few seconds of “-….” (9:45-10:00).

So where does one start when trying to decipher the audio code? I figured I would listen, write down the dots and dashes as I heard them, open up a cheat sheet, then BAM! code deciphered. Oh boy was I wrong. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it nearly impossible to keep up with short spaces, the amount of dots or dashes in a quick sequence, or even the difference between the two lengths. I was able to get the first word, (- … .), or THE, after many repeated listens, but everything beyond that turned into mush. As an extreme novice of the beep, I needed to slow it down.

As a non-musician, I didn’t have any audio software on my computer so I downloaded the first decent looking free thing and ran with it (I know Windows Media Player has this function, but I also wanted to crop the song to make playback easier). I opened up the track and slowed it down to 1/4 speed. Finally, I had something I could work with. I grabbed some paper, dotted and dashed the shit out of it, then entered it into the translator.

– …. . / ––. .–. . .– – / ..–. .. .–.. – . .–. / .– .––. .––. .–. ––– .– –.–. …. . …

Uhh… Ok. Thanks Mesarthim.

But wait! There’s more! A little bit of googling reveals that The Great Filter is a term used in association with the Fermi paradox. I encourage you to read the wiki page, or even the little blurb about it within the page for The Great Filter, but the quick version is this:

The earth shows no obvious signs of alien visitation. There are logical steps in an evolutionary path to get from “habitable planet” to “complex life forms” and finally to “colonization of other planets.” Many habitable planets are very very old, and therefore a good few should be at the point of colonization. A little math proves that there is a high probability that Earth would have already been visited/colonized at this point. Since that is not the case, some point in those evolutionary steps must be impossible or very improbable. The Great Filter is the name of the evolutionary step that makes colonization unlikely. It could be an early step, like any kind of biological life developing at all, or an advanced step, like interstellar travel being impossible.

Mesarthim’s message is enhanced by their mysterious nature. Are they saying that we will soon come closer to identifying what the filter is? Perhaps by finding microbial life on another planet? Or are they saying that we, or another life form, will soon show that the filter doesn’t exist, and that colonization is really happening but invisible to our current detection. Either way, I am convinced that Mesarthim has magical powers to know that something cool is happening soon, and I’ll be waiting.

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