Familiar Trees of the North West

Painted Girl


Liam Murphy

May 22, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Powerful samplework conjures images of expansive forests and a sense of deep longing on this release

Swirling sombre instrumentation hits instantly as Familiar Trees of the North West begins. Painted Girl seems content to let the samples droop and melt from the very start, brimming over each other and creating a weighty sense of dissonance. Pitched saxophone licks barely make it out onto centre-stage before they are swallowed by the more melodious euphoria or the slow marching percussion. The artwork contrasts the sound. Expecting some sort of fresh organic instrumentation illustrating the vitality of the Engelmann Spruce – possibly with field recordings and situational sound included – Painted Girl hits with what sounds like a representation of the soul of a weathered, gradually rotting tree reaching up into a lonely sky.

This somnambulist feeling flows throughout the project, gossamer percussion seems to whisp away as soon as it makes an impact. Piano notes waver and bend with age, still delivering an austere atmosphere of sorrow despite their slightly defunct sound. Western Redcedar works itself into a drunken fury after a few melancholy bars. A chorus of sedated trumpets climb out of slow-moving percussion, a jazzy break that would usually sound slick and cunning drawn out into an uncanny slur. After this it suddenly spreads into a slightly more light-footed tempo, but the ever-present drums begin to seem like obstructive trunks jutting out in front of us as we make our way through the moist undergrowth, the haze of the Pacific Northwest baring down upon us.

The EP is a brilliant piece of work. Very much a vaporwave-adjacent sound, the artwork conjures images of rolling countryside before the listener, and in that the tracks almost ameliorate like some elusive forest spirit. As if we’ve strayed to far into the forests of the US Northwest, stepping between these common trees, drawn by some spirit in the middle distance, every now and again craning our next towards the greying sky just visible through the canopy.