Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Arcis start their self-titled album off with cautiously confident synths bouncing across an effervescent horizon in Neon Engines. The stuttered bass keeps the pace high, as we move steadily into the body of the song. A beautiful juxtaposition of organic and artificial sounds can be found throughout the body of the track. The driving drumbeat gives the melody a grasping point, and we explode into halcyon riffs from a bouncy, 80s synth. The contrast of the energetic rhythm with the synth filled with underlying dread and emotion create that wonderful nostalgic sense of power.
Adamo takes a more laid-back approach, the synth sounds are now tremolo-ed, withering away into the crisp atmosphere. The lower synth works alongside the drumbeat in a magnificent sequence. Again, not wholly solemn, but full of feeling and emotion. Arcis use of melody is infallible. The artist leans an 80s sensibility without becoming completely indebted to it.
The Riviera floats in with whirring guitar licks. The feeling coming off of them is almost tantamount to a heartbreaking post-rock ballad. The texture of the track is suddenly changed, shifting from melancholic musing to a stuttered guitar chirps atop a beautifully syncopated rhythm. The subtlety of the track is perfect. No large crescendo needed, the beauty of The Riviera is ever-present in the modest, gratifying instrumentation.
Echo Ethereal follows the same sort of feeling. The reverbed guitars and bass help us to glide along with the tempo. A guitar stutters along at a rapid tempo, as another strikes meaningful notes into a sublimely endless soundscape.
City Life provides us with that wide, syncopated bassline that brings the vision of rapidly passing lampposts on a highway to even the least imaginative mind. The drum line strikes with a definitive pride. Allowing the synth to echo dramatically over a well-structured beat. The style could be compared to Kavinsky, and even back to the ground zero of Hall and Oates, but Arcis creates a tone all of their own.
Atlantic Sun’s delayed guitar line bobs out over a clear horizon. That familiar move down into minor after starting on a major chord hits you in the heart once again. The guitar work is immaculate, as it pulses frequently before dropping once again into a minor shift.
Electric Crimson moves in with a high-pitched guitar line. The drum line feels flat and synthetic, possibly to allow the purity of the guitar and the bassline to burst through. An almost inaudible little shuffle in the percussion as the song develops illustrates to us the rapid tempo most of the songs have run so far.
Panorama starts with synths wavering like air in the blistering sunlight. The characteristic bassline yawns as a glittering, bright melody line descends like feathers through air. Each song utilising a similar style in a unique and engaging way.
Vis-a-vis’s drum beat fades in almost like a vaporwave sample. But the air is soon filled with noodling guitars reaching up past the mood-setting bass stabs. Each track is kept on its tip toes through the use of pizzicato instrumentation, the heavy yet brief snare serves to push the listener forward. The bass almost always delivering emotive direction, without it being overbearing.
Navigator ends proceedings. Another drumbeat fading in, supported by juddering, synth bass. The name is apt. The track soon explodes into a dramatic search, the drumbeat driving us onward. The delayed melody lines bringing to the light the intricate mazes that lay out in front of us, the atmosphere created an emotional one of longing and cautious triumph.
Arcis could sell that 80s Bladerunner aesthetic in bottles at this point. The feeling comes so naturally integrated within each song on the album. The production crisp and perfect, we find ourselves reliving that same odd nostalgic feeling time and time again but in a modern, pristine setting.
Listen here: https://arcis.bandcamp.com/album/arcis