Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Thunder rumbles off in the distance as a clouded sky begins to emerge. Contrasted with beautifully swirling guitar notes, a feeling of tranquility among tumult is created. Piano trills out alongside the guitar notes, waiting patiently under a stormy landscape. All of a sudden, drums begin to burst into the scene and as they meet with melody, a warm glowing light begins to emanate over the vista. The guitar is undeniably infectious with its delivery, a wash of phased notes in the middle of the bar ending with a searing note playing out dramatically. A panpipe melody shoots out towards the ether, buzzing with a sunny vibrancy. After a break that bears more than a passing resemblance to the legendary Plastic Love, Soul▲Craft launches back into the maelstrom of the track. Malibu Beachfront sets out a curious tone at the start. The track has all the makings of that classic sample-based vaporwave, but there is something in the make up of it that pushes that little further.
Baby what is that look starts with thudding bass notes slapping within funky instrumentation. The sampled hook hums with a aged warmness. A voice sings through a muffled gauze as Soul▲Craft hits us with another bouncy classic vaporwave excursion. The artist takes the heat off of the listener as they launch from the vocal-heavy hook back to the smooth instrumental section. The atmosphere is a lot more enclosed on this track than on the one before, as the artist sets us directly in front of a nostalgia-ridden beat.
ᴘₒʟʏɢʟᵒᴛ joins in on the next track entitled Cash Queen Boulevard Romp. We start with background noise, and the whirring and beeping of arcade machines. As we venture too close to the action, our own 80s film soundtrack begins with heavy percussion and zapping melody. There is a beautiful coalescence between the scene and the track as a joyful Super Monkey Ball Deluxe sample blends seamlessly into the progression of the sampled track. Madonna’s original track is a fast-paced, almost video game-esque flash of a song. The two artists slow it down, sucking the intensity from it as it plays out like the intro of an old Tom Hanks movie. This is until the vocalist begins to croon over the bridge of the track, her voice beginning to swirl in a pool of reverb. ᴘₒʟʏɢʟᵒᴛ and Soul▲Craft reveal themselves behind the velvet curtain as the vocal line glitches and stutters slightly.
Whirlpool greets the listener with warm, bubbling synth work over a smooth percussive section. Soul▲Craft even manages to interject with very obvious stuttered sampling whilst keeping the track firmly in repose. As the vocal begins to emerge, we hear a deep and emotive performance that bursts into a cathartic section as the vocalist sings ‘nothing’s gonna keep me from you’. The track plays out with a glowing relaxing quality to it, the waves of sound as we move into the chorus section once again wash over the listener providing relief and a salve that may wash them away if they let go too much.
Bronze Goddess erupts with smouldering saxophone, dropping us effortlessly into another cool and collected melody. Soul▲Craft spins the sample back as it climaxes a few times, before letting it hit its high note. The sample stops abruptly, and we seem to meet with the instrument further on in its lament. It burns with a inconsolable pain before fading out into nothingness.
彼の側に刀を持つ生ハメ男 moves in a steady rhythm. Warm resonant bells seeping over each other in a reverberating space. The distinct sound of New Age is apparent in this track, the calming tones of xylophones and panpipes are warmed by Soul▲Craft’s production. Flat synths play out labyrinthine chords that go along with the mystic sound of the bells. Again, the artist reveals themselves as the holographic sounds flicker every now and again. Our beautiful surroundings wavering slightly under the hand of Soul▲Craft.
The titular Gateway begins with heavy, ominous synth over the sound of a shoreline. The fizzling synth that begins to play begins about a more longing positivity to the melody, choral pads adding to this. The track has an unexpected feeling to it, a timid drum beat brings about a sound that would be at home on Hosono’s Philharmony. Soul▲Craft bathes the listener in quaint beauty playing out fairly euphoric melodies on tinny, aged instruments.
Aquamarine stays with this same sound. Fizzling bass setting out a sturdy and austere melody, aqueous synth floating and diving alongside it. There is a explicitly classical feel to the track, Soul▲Craft patiently guides the track through a fairly old-fashioned progression. Everything is gently buffeted by sibilant percussion in the background. As we near the end, we hear a low voice sample of someone detaching from a patient/close companion. The awkwardness of the sample chiming with the strange eeriness of the preceding instrumental.
淡紅色 sunset brings us speeding into a sunlit esplanade road. Thick synth sounds wave along with the gentle breeze. The melody constantly reaching upwards in a triumphant binary progression. A whistling synth begins to soar above us, ascending and descending gracefully alongside the main chord structure. Soul▲Craft displays a penchant for a dynamic and sporadic journey as we dart from timid original compositions, to warm, fuzzy sample-based excursions.
The next track seems to ebb into view on a light wind, before exploding into existence before our eyes. Glittery melodies dash against the sunlight as wavering bass sets a mirage out on the horizon. One can almost feel the warming pulse of the sun against them as Soul▲Craft leads us walking down the same stretch of road endlessly before it fades away into silence.
King Weapon joins the artist for Above the sea of fog as longing pad chords begin to flow towards the listener. We move from glimmering sun to the aching emotion of an impending night. A major chord glides toward the listener, like the last light from the sun before we dive into darkness, soundtracked by a heartbreaking guitar melody and shimmering synth riffs. Soul▲Craft once again switches up the atmosphere as the synth moves from slushy to abrupt and sharp. But as the hi hats rattle, we are submerged by the echoing brilliance once again. The guitar is reminiscent of The Cure’s more solemn songs. That echelon of guitar music mired in emotions of an almost celestial scale. Soul▲Craft and King Weapon match this atmosphere perfectly, utilising the otherworldliness of electronic sound.
Clothing optional hits with another wave of beachside sun as a stuttering sample is let loose, guitar curling in the sun. The instrumentation wavers in the heat, there is this beautiful catharsis around the loop. The guitar twangs with this undeniable satisfaction. Cymbals hiss in the background, as everything audible is washed in sunlight and positivity.
Diving for Pearls fades in on a descending progression, almost as if we watch the artist fall deep into a sea trench. All of a sudden, brilliant sub-aquatic lights begin to shine as a slightly sinister pipe plays a hypnotic tune. We plummet alongside Soul▲Craft into the briny deep, as pitched voices escape from crevices in the rock. The voice samples shake the foundation of the track with low-end frequency. The artist lifts everything once again with glittering harp melodies. One is reminded of the chill-out and lounge music of the 90s. That inoffensive, slushy feeling is presented here perfectly using an addictively brilliant sample.
m a g g i e . w a v joins in on the final track, another that floats toward us gently. Roaring chords appear like foam on the edge of a wave. A thoughtful guitar loop sets an explorative tone on Slowdrift into future waters. The artists pipe in with beautifully timed piano chords, followed by a simple yet effective riff. Confidently ending Gateway in style they let riff with beautifully formed solo from one sounds like a keytar. It shines with myriad notes, laying for a while on deeply emotive trills and melodies. Its almost as if the Soul▲Craft is leaving us, floating effervescently into the sky, soaring with the power ignited by this finale. The drums even pick themselves up out of the position in the background, claps and snares actioned in a fiery salvo. The instruments let the track slide back to its calm longing sound, smouldering with triumph before we launch back into the lull of the guitar loop.
Soul▲Craft flies the listener through a dynamic range of sounds on the runtime of Gateway. Treating them to sun-dried jazzy lounge music at some points, and pushing them gradually into the deep blue sea on more dreamy cuts, the album’s myriad sounds refuse to clash at any point. The artist manages to present each one as a standalone entity, brilliant in its own way. And though the artist is fairly adept at doing this as can be evidenced in past projects, nowhere does it sound so seamless and enjoyable as on this album.