Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
From the very start of Fire’s Hush, DunkelpeK showcase a unique ability to wield sound. Unknown Memory floats by with an eerie fluidity. Nothing jumps out at the listener, instead the track mires in disquieting glissando piano chords and general melodic ambience that leaks naturally from the duo’s performance. It is cinematic, a song to highlight emptiness, or a dearth of familiarity. The title serves to describe this creeping amorphousness and uncertainty, with a piano stumbling outwards in a way that seems more intent on breaking the stillness and silence than lunging out with a discernible melody.
A completely different tone is unleashed on 無 as percussionist Nava Dunkelman delights in slamming the listener down into a state of despair, communicated by the yawning skin of drums or some taught surface. The resonant moaning that emits from the track is daunting and dark, with spews of guitar suffocating over the top of the bass-y dissonance. The gloomy energy finds its way through to a crescendo that sounds as if the duo have flung themselves at their instruments, Nava bouncing off of her percussion and guitarist Jakob Pek snagged on his screeching strings.
The atmosphere sinks back into a lighter one as Threshold offers razor sharp resonance. Delicately spun strands of sound knocking against gossamer bells. These lighter sounds gradually give way to large cymbal movements, creating a bedrock of sonorous noise. Despite this, the feeling is one of vacuity once again. The sounds the listener hears feel more like the absence of sound than anything else, the slow rumble of an unfilled expanse, a shrill defunct sprite peeling through the empty middle distance.
The atmosphere of desolation gives rise to wild and unkempt life on Anurakti. What once held nothing now begins to burst with creatures that evaporate immediately after coming into being. With rapid-fire percussion and sporadic bursts of organic sound from a guitar, an ecosystem of rough and ragged beings populate the soundscape. Suddenly, showers of percussion begin to rain down, and Nava once again demonstrates her abilities while the listener catches rhythms as they fall through the air.
Once again communicating with a volatile fluidity, Jakob’s guitar moves from quaint melodies, to spiked onslaughts and on into melting globules of plasma. Not only do the notes give a sense of restraint and release, but we can hear them struggle under the constant shifts in pressure. Helped into form by percussion, a chugging rock rhythm occurs before everything falls from its frame. Here the true beauty of improvisation reveals itself, as DunkelpeK are able to mimic sounds and styles before moving seamlessly into touching moments of gloomy thoughtfulness.
Ominous cymbals ring and squeal, a light sense of dread permeating the soundscape. After a minute or so, this feeling begins to push deeper. Low guttural dissonance leaking alongside it. The varied size and speed of each moan and motion thickens the expanse through which the listener looks, like tendrils of smoke writhing over each other in a deep murky trench. There is a distinct sense of holism that DunkelpeK achieves on Inverse Ontologies, bringing unfathomably deep sounds together alongside razor-blade cymbal work.
Inner Eye finds its beginnings in an unabashedly loud cymbal, as a deep murmur of drums settle in underneath the splashes of sibilant ride. The rolling drums reveal a chasm of sound that stretches down into sonic darkness. Intangible sound and palpable percussive groans float out of the hole side by side as DunkelpeK leaves it to yawn wider. Something begins to brim over the top, predicated by the anticipatory cymbal rushes and realised in the slumping, cataclysmic drum rolls.
Clear and unshaken improvisation brings us toward the end of Fire’s Hush. Creaking percussion and daintily dissonant clusters of piano introduce Ode to the Dream. The listener finds Nava and Jakob bringing shaky hands and skittish melodies to their respective instruments. Whereas a lot of the journeying has been done through deep, ominous sounds, the duo elegise the concept of a dream with bright and colourful noise. A sharpness and improvisational wit takes over in choked strings and percussive skins, and in tributary melodies that tease with a cyclical nature. Things fall into a nonsensical march around the midpoint, piano guided along by the beating of a deep drum. However, as inevitable as the sequence sounded, DunkelpeK are just as able to bring us out of the trance as it is disrupted by plosive notes on shallow keys. Just like a dream, the track does not end with a sense of conclusiveness, but rather fades out inconsequentially, leaving the listener to wonder at the space where they were sure it once was.
The duo alchemise many forms of silence throughout the runtime of Fire’s Hush. Summoned through chasms of percussion and echo in its darker moments, and teased via a feeling of peripheral melody in the lighter ones, DunkelpeK master the art of guiding the listener down narrow sonic paths. As the cataclysm and eeriness abound all around them, the duo often able recede swiftly, leaving the listener to wonder.