Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
A wide, watery pad fills the atmosphere as From Water To Land begins. The sound is clear and defined, but the environment around it blurs and muddies the sound slightly, like a strong light encased in gurgling, blue water. Not long after we have been introduced to this sound, a drum pattern begins abruptly, the make-up of which is unpredictable and imaginative. The pads melodies then drop down twice, instantly reminiscent Aphex Twin’s gentler compositions. The pad’s characteristics are eternally comforting as we are knocked around by the industrial percussive sounds. But just as you think you are stuck in an aquarium, KALEEM X WILL walk us out onto a busy street as the pad becomes more defined. We hear clear conversations and the goings-on of a large city. We start to think maybe, just maybe, the aqueous environment we were in was just an illusion, through which we were viewing a large, sprawling cityscape.
Sinking Castle follows the same style. Breathy pads and fluttering melodies find a home among engaging drumbeats. As the track plods along, nothing is lost in a sea of reverb. Everything is held very much where it is, allowing the listener to relax. As the track reaches its second half, it begins to meld with another melody and each struggles for dominance. KALEEM X WILL’s style is apparent and makes a clear impression from the outset.
Moon’s Intimidation brings us to a deeper place, the slowly rising pad sounds coming from a deep, dark trench. The percussion is also darker, the hi-hats and snares replaced by low rumbling bass drums and inhuman clapping. Detuned instruments intimidate from behind the cacophony until they are released, standing confidently by themselves. Helped along by thick, layered synth sounds, the track takes us further down into the dark nether regions of the album.
Sun’s Strength provides us with a foil to the previous track. Triumphant choirs and slowly arpeggiating sounds float with us. A very similar drumbeat comes in as well, this one lifting us above the murky menace of the last track. A crystalline bell sound emanates from the song’s proceedings. We see a city, forever meant to be concealed in darkness, kissed by sun.
More fluttering synth pads and percussion trapped in shallow water in Abyss. It feels as though we are standing only steps away from a great precipice. The juddered drum beats shakes the track, but beautiful pads shine through.
The album finds new strength in Ocean Rebirth, the looped, crystal melody hidden once again behind intimidating percussion. Guitar tones join in as well, creating a strong track centered around one melodic loop, until the guitar falls away, dancing gently as it does so. Walls of percussion and bass give us a platform upon which to enjoy the melodic proceedings.
Renaissance brings us into the light of nature once again. Strange mammals paddle around us in water as we are surrounded by a strange, alien environment. The whirling pad giving way to chirping distortion and ambience, and then to Light of Heaven.
Heavy drums taper down the beautiful chords of the track, allowing a high-pitched sequence to shine upon the top of the song. Through this also comes looped synth strings, giving the track and emotive journey like no other on the album. Everything gives way but the strings, sounding like a progressive dance track from the 90’s. The melodic aesthetic of the album is so simple, yet so engaging at the same time. KALEEM X WILL master the art of simplicity.
The album ends with Kingdom. And a piano sound clearer than anything experienced previously. Thunder rolls in the background, as it feels as though the beauty of the album has been truly realised, shed its watery characteristics and they have evaporated into the clouds. A wonderful, affecting track to end on. The songs before held us quite comfortably, this track asks us to fly solo among the other birds, to be fearless of the thunder. A beautiful feeling of completion washes over the listener, Kingdom ties up the album perfectly, we may have been lost in dark trenches, and watery prisons, but KALEEM X WILL has certainly let us free with this angelic closer.