Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Linear begins the album as a proud synth line bobs up and down creating a triumphant and powerful atmosphere. The synth slips out of its uniform tone for a second, almost oozing from the hard casing its held in before a chattering hi hat begins to build tension. Memory Tracer immediately conjures images of streetlights whizzing by as we speed down a dark and endless highway. That sturdy arpeggiation feels like our own inner monologue as we find ourselves in the midst of the action, shooting through the night. Slowly AURAGRAPH builds the percussion as ghostly synth feedback floats in the background. A clearing appears ahead, and we fly towards it as the tom drums cease and higher, arpeggiated notes combine with airy pads. The sound is overwhelmingly crisp, the melody and percussion sound as if Carlos Ramirez had got them bottled and imported directly from the 80s. The drums drop away, giving the beautiful synths space to use their momentum, space to allow the pads to fly toward the horizon of the mix.
A grainy sweep casts itself across the stereo field as Precursor starts. Following behind it is a bubbling oasis of sound that slowly unfurls as it approaches the centre stage. The track turns very swiftly melodic as choppy synths move toward the lower frequencies, giving the short track a bounce even without a percussive rhythm. AURAGRAPH draws us toward a shroud of white noise as it closes.
Timeline revisits the artist’s ability to create a pulsing, infectious rhythm and set it comfortably beneath a melody section that achieves a great deal of progression in a little amount of time. A lead riff stabs through the holes left by the bobbing bassline. AURAGRAPH sets so many explicit levels of sound and cadence. No synth line gets in the way of another. Every exists in its own unique and effective space in the mix. The drums also help to keep a balanced equilibrium, hanging back at just a perfect enough distance away.
Polywave was presented as an early preview of the album. The video sees the artist construct and maintain the track utilising a collection of modern and vintage synthesisers and drum machines. The methodology behind the song choice for the video surely resides in the song’s fantastic showcasing of AURAGRAPH’s expertise when setting a precise sonic atmosphere. The track begins with a rush of cloudy, decadent chords scattering over a glowing landscape. From this haze a bass and rhythm stumble forward. The heavy-set drum line gives the artist space and opportunity to move back toward melody, a string sound jumping in a wonderful twirling arpeggiator. The whole track continues in this way for the whole runtime, Carlos pushing both melody and texture bit by bit. The track is also one of the most airy and buoyant excursions on the album, the overall trajectory of the track being toward a more positive tune.
Event Horizon wastes no time showcasing a wonderfully thick synth bassline. This is the track that feels most relatable to Ramirez’ time working on the hugely successful series Stranger Things. A sinister gust of synth feedback swirls as the drum line slowly builds up. As the artist builds layer upon layer of percussion and melody, the bassline feels more and more progressive. Driving everything in the track forward. Wonderful moments of organic sound occur as what sounds like a screeching guitar phases in and out of focus and a snare can be heard amidst the growing noise. The title of the song is well chosen, it feels as though the cascades of percussion and sound are fragments of time and space peeling off of the bass section that we ride atop of. Our trusty ship that does not falter under the intense pressure around it as we approach a black hole.
Semitropic is another track with a noticeably positive melody. Something about the pads that float gracefully in the background, combined with the explorative lead melody really conveys a buoyant atmosphere. The bass comes out of its hiding place with every revolution of the beat, AURAGRAPH carefully opens up the filter allowing it to breath more.
Drone brings a synth line reminiscent of early Oneohtrix Point Never to the table, joined by a clear and confident bass drum and snare combo. The track gives us what one can be pretty sure is the only human voice to feature on the album. As the song finds its groove, we hear a voice repeat the word ‘Dront’ underneath the growing instrumentation. Something about the percussion feels more clear, the trebly nature of the claps really take the listener by surprise. An arpeggiating synth takes the lead role, bandying slowly from one side to the other. At one point it is laser sharp, and at another it is heady and sends delayed notes cascading through the mix. AURAGRAPH builds each part so carefully, protecting a number of repeating sections that make up the main body of each track and building around them with alternating tunes and percussion. Drone begins to wrap up as a soothing bass note repeats on every beat. The artist lets the repeating melody fly towards the receding horizon of the mix, and the main synth section slowly fades.
Singularity finds AURAGRAPH moving into a more danceable rhythm toward the end of the album. A bass drum lays out a more pacy tempo, he sends distorted synth chords gliding past the percussion before a hypnotic bassline joins the growing throng of sound. A hi hat on every off note solidifies the now explicit change in pace, instead of super realistic 3D landscapes being drawn in front of us like tracks before, we are thrown into the maelstrom of a packed dancefloor. One can almost feel that distorted synth fly over the heads of the people in front of them as we watch the artist create this atmosphere some distance away. An artificial snare begins to rap at the door, intent on gaining access to the guarded wall of sound. With an explosion of synth notes and stardust the track bursts like a plant depositing its seeds, the rich synth blooming into life. AURAGRAPH hits us with infectious waves of sound so richly processed and created, atop seriously infectious, dancing beats.
We end with the titular track. Memory Tracer feels more timid than all of the tracks that have gone before, but retains this wonderfully magisterial presence. A glowing synth chord begins to decay and blow away in granulated sandy sweeps of sound. AURAGRAPH pushes cathartic notes gently into the mix to create a gentle narrative progression to the song. But what is most noticeable is this unrelenting note, present from the very start. It continues, as if it were simply the wind blowing through this incredible scene that is created in front of us. The track is proof (if we needed it) that the artist has a keen ear for a more ambient sound. The atmosphere created is unforgettable and striking and should create a resounding eagerness to see what else this artist is capable of.
Hiraeth Records release yet another groundbreaking project. AURAGRAPH is hugely successful in the construction of watertight tracks that inhabit a pristine sound and structure. New and old come together seamlessly as the artist laces the vintage sounds of analogue synthesisers with slick and polished production. Memory Tracer provides the listener with a huge amount of material to explore, each track blossoming with its own unique beauty.
Listen/purchase digitally, on CD or Vinyl here: https://hiraeth-records.bandcamp.com/album/memory-tracer