Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
OTHERM starts New World Hoarder with slowly sweeping pads and crawling rhythm. From the very start of the album we get a taste of the unique vocals on display from the artist. Pitched voices croon over the artificial stereoscape, flamboyant and engagingly dramatic in their delivery. They twist with a beautiful fluidity. The instrumentation supporting them is bouncy and follows a quaint sonic narrative, in under 2 minutes OTHERM does a lot to introduce us to the incredibly special and eccentric sound.
Gem Goo finds the artist’s vocals taking more of a leading role. Hazy, pulsing and almost orchestral synths break into staccato hits as the drums break down giving OTHERM ample space to push emotive vocals into the emerging affray. The vocal hook provides a snapshot insight into a world where time moves and freezes at the beck and call of the artist, depending on their tumultuous feelings. The formulation of the vocals is reminiscent emotive, guitar-driven music. The hook instrumentation almost aping a roaring breakdown of a rock song. Something in OTHERM’s voice provides us with more sustenance than a simple, emotive guitar song. That and the beautifully formulated electronic sound that’s created.
Another Cake finds the artist pulling a dynamic mix of sounds towards them as they find another imaginative vocal pathway to take. The instrumentation seems to float of its own accord, slowly spiralling and orbiting around the melodies as they are created in real time. The beat begins as the vocals stutter and glitch. OTHERM launches into a vocal performance similar to that of post-punk bands such as Bauhaus. The dark nature of the lyrics dragging the vocalist lower and lower in pitch.
Desire_Object starts with a chirping string melody building a positive momentum. The vocals ease their way in, more timid and heartfelt than the last. The instrumentation is more playful, but still commanding with thick basslines and a huge build up. Squeaking whistles rise up and down like something you’d hear in Animal Crossing. The atmosphere OTHERM creates is unpredictable and wonderfully dramatic.
Kidz plays like an ode to all those under 18. The laboured and slurred delivery of vocals speaking to feelings of stress and a detachment from the world around. Strings hide behind delayed synth riffs and squelching bass tones. Fragments of drums meld themselves together to then cut out a second later, leaving the stereo field open and clear. The drums even break into a Drum & Bass refrain towards the end. The track is made up of schizophrenic sections, unsure of what they want to be, perfectly reflecting the premise behind the lyrics.
wwwwwww brings one of the most catchy vocal performances on the whole album. A pixie-like voice sings ‘trying’ throughout, an expertly placed and recurring landmark as the track progresses. A steady snare driven drum sequence pushes the song forward at a steady pace. Once again, the lyrical content deserves a particular mention. OTHERM’s focus on fantastical themes pits dark against light, love against fear and continues to be unique and engaging as we make our way through the second half of New World Hoarder.
Jun-jun cuts a dark pathway through trumpeting basslines and fast-moving aquatic synth leads that sound ripped out of a grime instrumental. OTHERM deviates from sinister rising vocal tones to shouting in the background of the mix, caked in uncanny effects. The track is short, but is definitely the most exciting instrumental performance on the project.
We end of Crystallized as fluttering wings of come to rest at the centre of the stereo field amidst echoed vocals and reversed whistling melodies. The instrumental pushes forward this deep throbbing underbelly of sound as the voice twirls and pirouettes from high pitches to low, rumbling murmurs. Its hard to cling to any recurring section, besides one where OTHERM laments a ‘poor young sycophant’. Even that part is drawn out and unpredictable in its sparse sound. Halfway through the track bursts with a momentum and energy as the voice continues to cry over the chasm towards the listener. The lyrics seem to offer up the singer in a dramatic climax: ‘Take me, make me, break me down’. New World Hoarder ends on the frail and still emotively flourishing vocals of the artist.
OTHERM produces a sound like no other on New World Hoarder, blending imaginative electronic instrumentation with a constantly transformative and genuinely alluring vocal performance.
Purchase here: https://otherm.bandcamp.com/album/hi07