Negative Fascination doesn't break the mould exactly. But there's a distinct mark of confidence, from the breathtaking soundscape of beatless opener "Process (Introduction)"—revelling in the occult sound experiments of associates Raime—to the way a twisted metal arpeggio surfaces in "Invocation of Lust." (Mendez (and Sandwell) has always had a melodic streak, yet you'll find little in his catalogue more overt than the stirring strings in the latter track.)
As melodic and memorable as these tracks are, they're also some of Mendez' least forgiving. "The Strange Attractor" is a brutal workout with eardrum-scraping chords that relentlessly pan the spectrum as if trying to disorient the listener, and "Temptation & Desire" ups the ante by coating the kicks in rust and dropping them in an acid bath of shrieking frequencies. Meanwhile, "Moral Divide (Endless)" prefers motorik á la the stiff metronome of Tropic of Cancer, before everything wraps up with "Utopian Disaster (End)," a comparably lengthy track which sounds like Sandwell distilled: sonorous sustain chords punctured by a perpetually flowing arpeggio and atmospherics so cavernous you'll want to bring a headlamp.
What's most impressive about Negative Fascination is how Mendez manages to cover so much ground both so cohesively and in such a relatively short period of time, the rare techno album that finishes up under 40 minutes. It feels like a miniaturized epic, and it sees Mendez touch on all the established hallmarks of his already renowned sound, embellishing it here and there with grandiose flourishes.