Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Ethereal chords buffet towards the listener as the title track begins. The percussion is rigid but sparse enough to not draw attention from the pad chords. The drums provide a simple plinth from which to view the great expanse that AURAGRAPH illustrates. Several sounds begin to emerge from the azure skyline, all in varying stages of transparency. Some are solid forms that fade as they course through the air. However this weightlessness is given a little more form as percussion steadily builds and a resonant bassline hunkers down at the bottom end of the track. AURAGRAPH pulls the ambient sounds away, focusing everything around the bassline before bringing angelic pads and bells in once again, slowly. Something in these more elegant sounds feels more distant and intangible than what we’ve heard from AURAGRAPH before. The artist seems to let them fly a little higher and further from the listener, causing an even more intense and vertiginous spectacle.
Vanta brings a solid bass note bouncing off of neon grids. Playful and dance-y in their delivery, the synths shroud around the powerful acid-inspired bass. The low end blasts the pads away at first, but after a while the two find coexistence as rich pads curl around pulsating rhythmic notes. Each part is so perfectly engineered. The style of the music places the listener into this interesting middle ground between tranquil ambience and galvanising electronic dance.
Acid Disco pushes a more modern sound to the fore, moving away from the 80s synth style of previous release Memory Tracer. A soft pad stretches over toward the listener, carried on its path by rhythmic hi hats trickling sibilantly. There is a warm atmosphere. The characteristically sharp resonance sounds muffled at first, but slowly the filter opens as the track settles into a beat. The arpeggiated bass section hits out with jagged notes every now and again, piercing through the tranquil pads. Chimes bring in a balearic sound, as images of sandy beaches and mirage-like horizons begin to ameliorate.
A hop back to a more dramatic style as a steady bassline moves us forward at speed, the sharp chop of it flitting past like lampposts obstructing our view of a nearing cityscape. Falling Spaces pits didactic percussion and bass against amorphous synth voices and gossamer keys. The listener strains their ears to try and make out what the voice sings, but the sense of it is lost in lapping waves of chorus and melody.
A bass note slowly curling in and out of sharpness bounces against chattering high frequency percussion. The note shifts up and down as the track proceeds, creating a simple rhythmic melody. Differing a little from the previous tracks, 1994‘s percussion seems to draw our attention more. The off-beat hi hat and claps are pushed forward in the mix, vying with restless bassline. The melody boils down to two chords at the start of each bar that push this sense of slight dread and eeriness, joined by sharper notes that open up towards the end, aligning with the deep bass.
Self Platform sounds like a sprawling holographic rainforest at first. A tuneful note bobbing to a steady beat paves an opening for ambient pads and echoing percussion. The impacts of certain bass notes and some sort of clattering percussion fly toward us from beyond countless trees and flora. The track as a whole feels like AURAGRAPH attempting to turn something artificial into something real. Layers of sound build on top of each other to an intense climax that only settles toward the end.
Led by a cooing synth loop, Sky Plaza instils a sense of calm airiness. The artist’s layering is a little more patient here; snare’s reduced to short sprays of high frequencies, no bass to drive the track forward in a distinct direction. Instead the listener is treated to a slow bloom. The percussion pushes itself to the centre of the listeners vision, as swathes of euphoric melody swim either side. The listener almost expects for the track to burst into some dramatic crescendo, but AURAGRAPH is happy to let this hypnotic melody play out to the end.
A commanding kick drum blows away the haze, bringing with it a steady synth sound. We are almost caught off guard by the bassline as it sweeps in a little after the start of the beat and the percussion barely even flinches as the slightly resonant tone asserts itself into the foundation of the track. One of the livelier additions to Opacity Field, Gradient sings out confidently fairly just before the midway point. The bass filter opens up, gelling with the general hum of melody that AURAGRAPH has let spread around. The track then simmers down a little, letting a crystalline melody find its way through the soft ambience.
Just as Memory Tracer concluded with a more freeform addition, so too do the original tracks on Opacity Field. Downcast sends chords lacquered in a thick film of chorus and delay cascading gently downwards. As the chords loop, they push a little more confidently. The expanse lighting up slowly like a body of water as the sun rises. The heat and light from the synth warps our vision as we stare at the brilliance ahead. Wisps of vapour dance around our field of vision, and are the last thing to evaporate completely as the warm light of the melody disappears.
Restrictive percussion encases AURAGRAPH’s melody in FM SKYLINE’s remix of the titular track. The synth feels more membraneous in this revision of Opacity Field. The artist takes the opportunity to wipe some of the obscuring haze away, and through this is able to augment the melody. High-pitched bells peel off from the main tune, evaporating into a glittery mirage. It is refreshing to hear the soul of the track in another form. Where the original was open-ended and appeared like a mirage, this remix is a little more geometric.
猫 シ Corp. chooses one of the most laid back tracks to interpret. The interpretation feels more fragile than the original, two men talk over frail-sounding keys. Everything in the track feels like it is blessed by blinding light, transforming it to high frequency outlines of a fuller image. Much like the original, the remixing is content not to let the track explode in any dramatic or cathartic way. Instead we are just treated to these transcendent sounds washing over us until they ebb away.
AURAGRAPH once again presents an incredibly enjoyable and comprehensive work. Where the didactic and determined nature of Memory Tracer is absent, a cool and carefree open-ended sound takes its place. The artist pulls things in and out of focus throughout the album’s runtime, synths that are free from any real restrictions, pedal note bass sections that keep a steady momentum. All of this invites the listener into a comfortable hypnotic state.