Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Noise music is a genre that initially feels almost entirely alien and is often immediately overwhelming. CONVERGENCE feels very strange, but it also provides greater insight into the variety of sounds that inhabit this genre, making it a perfect entry point for potential newcomers.
No time is wasted here as the listener immediately finds themselves punished by waves of static of 1. Soon a demonic distorted voice enters the fray, its screams melting into the cacophony of tones. It fades out briefly before returning in an almost rhythmic loop, still drenched in distortion and feedback. Occasionally it breaks through the layers of noise and becomes audible but not enough to discern what is being said. There is a certain rhythm to this madness; what begins as a wall of screeching tones soon develops patterns, it becomes easier and easier to get lost in the noise. The track ends with a rhythmic bass tone leading perfectly into what's next.
2 begins with a deep saturated bass tone that soon begins to get lost in layers of feedback and distorted voices. The effect is disorienting and confusing; the voices are just familiar enough to provide a point of reference while also being obscured and transformed enough to induce a constant state of uneasiness. There are hints of melody in the feedback under the voices; at some points, it almost feels as though a familiar tune is audible though it's unclear whether that truly exists.
A short looped sample starts things off on 3 before a curtain of static and drones envelop the soundscape. Hints of the loop are still audible, as are the occasional hints of a lingering piano melody. The juxtaposition of the subtly sweet melodies and the harsh electronic elements creates a sense of disquiet. At some points, it almost has a carnival-like quality to it but certainly not a carnival that anyone would want to find themselves in; instead, it's a place that the listener would desperately wish to escape from. As things go on, that looped sample occasionally makes its way to the forefront, as well as some barely audible whispers. All these elements combine to produce a truly nightmarish landscape that the listener is hopelessly trying to awaken from.
More rhythmic noises and distorted vocals open 4, though the vocals seem to be the focal point here. They are placed firmly in the forefront of the mix while this violent soundscape encircles them. Though they become less audible at times, they never quite disappear, providing this subtle inaudible narration throughout most of the track. The soundscape does become less harsh at points, with hints of an almost danceable rhythm at the end, but it was likely too much to expect this environment to let something so familiar last for very long.
Things take on an almost science fiction atmosphere on the final track; swirling synth pads and noise combine to create this disorientating feeling of being in space. These tones fade in and out while panning around the soundstage, but as before the only constant is the vocal samples. Soon some softer almost ambient synth melodies start to join in the fray; however, they don't stick around long, but that combined with the softer noise and the spoken word gives the piece an almost meditative feeling, like an alternate universe mindfulness retreat. A high-pitched piercing whine dances throughout the second half, creating a tinnitus sensation that will certainly be familiar to some listeners. The combination of elements creates this weirdly beautiful yet haunting environment that is both repulsive and enchanting all at once.
This interesting collection of tracks creates a perfect sampler for those interested in dipping their toes into noise music. The diversity shown here is likely a result of the collaboration between the two creators, and it is this diversity that is the release's strongest asset. There are lots of ideas here that could be fleshed out into entire albums of their own, but by providing just a taste, the listener is hooked and will certainly seek out more of what these artists and this genre have to offer.