Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Pedicure Records originally started as a joke. A parody off-shoot of the Manicure Records and PC Music movements that begun around 2015. The creator found himself armed with a 3-track EP produced under the hilarious artist name A.G. Kush and no label in particular to release it on. Pedicure Records was created.
After the initial confusion of people thinking it must be a spin-off of Manicure Records, real demos began to appear in the labels inbox. Overly-energetic Nitecore cuts, explorative Vaporwave projects, everything from original material to outright parodies.
It was this energy that spurred the record label onward. Inspired by its half-joke origin story, Pedicure Records dedicated itself to giving a home to projects that found influence from the less serious side of electronic music. Vibrant colours and joke artist names are common in its output, but so too is engaging musicianship and genuinely entertaining albums and EPs. Each release offers the listener an experience like no other.
5 years since the official starting point and the label has reached its 100th release. And to mark the occasion, they have invited some of the artists that have featured on the label before to contribute a track toward INTERNATIONAL NOP UNDERGROUND.
Pepsi’s edit of Monument brings us rawring back into NXC with a radiation-filled bassline. The genre has, at points, been able to achieve this wonderful feeling of the sublime. This feeling of speeding down a neon highway to some sort of wilful oblivion, subject only to the judgement of your own sense of self worth. The hook ‘this will be my monument’ is epic and delivered with a soft touch in comparison to the abrasive, steel wire of the bassline.
kittynxc brings an unassuming bassline in with slowly growing pads. More reserved and calculated then the last track, a lone voice sings out at the start of every beat. The song seems to exist half submerged in water, sounding mellow and deep, and half outside of the water, with a crisp and pristine texture. It deviates between these two textures with a cold melody.
BLONDENXC interjects with a chirping distorted tune that is combined with scratching synths spreading like waves. Before long we dive headfirst into heavy chattering percussion and a snaking bass tone. Respite comes as the percussion drops out momentarily, but the nature of the melody informs us that the song exists in a binary of either building or breaking and we dive once again. The way BLONDENXC keeps each individual part in check with the thumping power of the bassline is impressive.
BOYNXTDOOR’s offering is short but impossible to take lightly. A drunken synth stumbles through a dark forest of sword-like snares and thundering bass that vibrates underfoot. The artists on the compilation that have provided short interludes have ensured that there representation is no less impressive, in the track Boy Next Door serves up one of the heaviest songs on the 20-track compilation.
Hectic’s remix of zwansound begins with a melody not unlike the last track, almost as if all three artists have been drinking from some spring of evil-sounding hooks. This song slowly descends into a mid-tempo affair with detached vocals echoing out over an overexcited bassline. zwansound had the honour of the 99th release on this label (we reviewed it here) and Hectic seems to take this opportunity to switch up the feeling of his work. The production brought to the table is again impressive and engaging.
RIA EKIN introduces us to some rain-stricken land as a high-pitched voice weeps into the torrential downpour. The landscape clears and a timid drum line begins to form. It almost sounds as if the artist is controlling the path of some huge, blooming cloud of vocals and melody. It moves with this lumbering beauty. That feeling of heartbreak is apparent. Though forever unreachable in commercial music, NXC can dig that little deeper as the generally higher pitched vocals and melodies conjure this sense of unnaturally prevalent emotion.
ehh hahah starts with a fairly simple clarinet and piano duet. But as we dive into the percussion we begin to understand that the make up of the track will be multi-faceted and complex. This beautiful string breathes into the landscape at the same time as the bass at a particular point. It creates this beautiful feeling of longing and emotion, only to be cut short by a stubby piano part. The multitudinous sounds and textures that ehh hahah presents is dynamic enough, but not even the melody is predictable either.
V@LeRiC drags us into the centre of a terrifying dance floor. A vocal repeats incessantly breaking every now and again for a quick 16-bar excursion. It’s hard to know if the song breaks down at any point, the beauty of it is that it’s constantly in a state of building and bursting and V@LeRiC does a tremendous job of keeping each part in check.
DJ Pacifier & DvD come with a track that sounds like it’s lifted off of a 90s Drum and Bass/Happy Hardcore CD with countless soulless smiley faces on it. The artists bring arbitrary sounds in on the beat for fun but the song does have some standout moments of fantastic production. The chattering jungly loop that disappears in the face of a huge four to the floor drop. Repeating that amazing line “why am I doing this?” that speaks so much to the strange, self-referential absurdity of the label.
We end with surely how Pedicure Records means to go on; an 11- minute insanity-enducing odyssey entitled Rock and Roll is Killing My Life by Meme Vivaldi. A steady 12 bar blues tune is joined by a robotic voice aping the titular phrase over and over again. Gradually over the space of the song, detuned synths begin to derail the melodic elements of the track, childish voices bark random chewed up sounds as everything begins to fall in on itself. The landscape soon becomes one of derelict and nuclear proportion, with no meaningful melody able to thrive at all. A loving testament to the rock of old? Or a parodying and patronising of those who speak of the power and damaging effects of ‘Rock and Roll’ without giving dues to the twisted and amorphous nature of electronic music?
It’s been a long time since Pedicure Records was seen as a joke in and of itself. It may give a helping hand to some hilarious projects now and again, but it’s vanguard-like output has been a much needed crutch for experimental artists the world over. The good news is that it makes no plan to disappear at any point. Though submissions are numerous, the owner of the label still invites artists of all kinds to add to the roster.
Listen in full/download here: pedicurerecords.bandcamp.com/album/pd100-international-nop-underground