Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
It is very enticing to make a project that flows as seamlessly as possible. In popular music, whatever appeases the casual listener is paramount. In more esoteric experimental music, the drive to make something immersive usually guides the artist into soft and subtle transitions. Spacelab seeks to actively subvert this kind of approach on the new release from record label Wormhole World. The project Kaleidomission pits short random soundbites between longer more musical movements, promising mysticism and disruption in equal measure.
The sound that is achieved is one of eerie dissonance and non-sequitur. Very contextual film and TV fragments are followed by swooping choruses of pads and other strange synthesised elements. The instruments waver slightly in the unpredictable air, never too sure whether they will be cut off or not. The tracks Bike and Gaia are some of our first examples of more expansive experiences. Metallic shrouds fall in reverse, an austere selection of notes control both of these tracks.
To go from clear and sometimes comedic snippets one minute to strange wallowing melodies the next takes a careful hand. It is a disrupted experience. It almost feels as though the longer tracks are the calculations and inner workings of some random memory bank as it works hard to cough up another strange soundbite.
Instruments feel pushed up against the gauze of the mix, teetering into distortion as Spacelab uses harsh and often defunct sound. We Love Can provides a respite from this close quarters sound for a while. Swirling phased pads spiral towards the listener, the artist opening up the frequency range a little.
At points, that eerie antiquated sound made popular by artists like Boards of Canada is clearly channeled. Raw noise left to fizzle and pulse, melodies on the fence between euphoria and anxiety, the sound is otherworldly and hypnotic. We Love Faust gives us what is probably the only clear use of organic instrumentation on the project. An acoustic guitar plucks between two emotive chords as muffled swirls of synth cavort and spiral behind. As the listener acclimatises to reversed sound and lo-fi recordings, they can hear a definite adoration of dramatic melodies. Vipassana focuses in on this beautiful backwards melody that clambers up high into the sky. Even though the tune is reversed, one can feel it is triumphant and emotional.
Kaleidomission sounds like a TV set that has been left on, deep in the dusty bowels of your old school. Crammed in and surrounded by other sets, it flicks from one channel to the next and emits creepy signals from out of nowhere. The soundbites of talking and laughter do invite a feeling of joviality, but these are washed away by the poignance of the longer, musical sections. The artist showcases a pure talent and an eagerness for engaging sounds and melodies. They shirk a pristine sound and submerge themselves in the decaying and defunct sound of old electronics.