Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
A robotic voice teeters from a British accent to an American one as we are introduced to The Minidisc. The voice comments on the vocal talents of Chrissy Hynde on Rebel Rock Me, a song by The Pretenders as eerie pads are conjured from behind. A decidedly esoteric beginning to an album, but nothing out of the ordinary for those that are used to Petridisch’s inventive style.
And Sure Enough drags the listener deep into an ever moving melodious pit as a range of piano notes dive. Bubbling synth notes arpeggiate alongside the descent. The track is dark, providing no means of respite from a generally morose feeling. There is an overwhelming atmosphere of dread. Echoing voices provide a sense of enormity as they follow along with the three main chords in sequence. The track concludes with a voice, now alone and noticeably artificial, singing out a warbling high note.
The next track takes a more abstract and dissonant pathway. Petridisch sends a lumbering sample out into an uncertain soundscape in Sure As Me. A voice begins to sing. Each note and movement of the vocals stretched out of intelligibility. Explicitly different than the solid and hyper-real voices in the last track, these seem to sit at the opposite end of the uncanny valley. Their tones and general feeling of lethargy are unsettling and strange to listen to. The sample continues for the entirety before cutting abruptly at the end.
Beat 4 departs even more from the initial focus on melody at the very beginning. A harsh, sandy beat begins. Petridisch chucks detuned noises out on beat, murky keys gurgling up toward the surface of the mix. The tune does find its way through at points, but is beaten back down by the harsh fuzz of the percussion.
Interlude DD brings us back to the timid musicality that we were introduced to near the start. Full twinkling keys buzz a sinister tune. Petridisch so often uses odd notes here and there to accentuate this feeling of dilapidation. As if we are stumbling onto a forgotten artefact, its tunefulness eroded by time.
Don’t Tell Me How to Cook features Alison barking banal proverbs over a drumline sounding like something from Lynch’s Lost Highway.
Following on from the interlude that came previously, Interlude AA digs even deeper, sending rumbling notes toward the listener at a slightly faster pace. Petridisch builds tension over these two interludes, dichotomising it with an absurd spoken word rant.
Window Pane reprises the use of stretched and strained sampling. A searing drumline provides a cushion for a beautiful duet of voice and keys. The stretch marks on this clip are less evident than Sure As Me. The keys are beautifully effervescent, and there is something truly comforting in that fragment of crooning at the end of each repetition. A taut British man philosophises on love. The artist relaxes on this track, the sample providing a continuously engaging environment for him to work through with sporadic glitches and beautifully placed spoken word samples.
Interlude CC focuses more on the twinkling key sounds. A vocaloid sings along with the notes. Petridisch’s use of the artificial voice program always feels interesting, as he contrasts it with simple and emotive chord sequences.
AI2 sounds as if a defunct time machine has landed in some sort of Jacobean castle. The tune played is archaic, but beeps and fizzles with this modular energy. The song begins to ascend with a strange upwards energy, the artist slowing the arpeggiation every now and again to create an unsure pace.
Beat 2 fades in with a chattering percussive rhythm and deep, yawning pads that fill the background of the mix. An unpredictable lead synth rises upwards, in conflict with the smooth, dulcet pads. They fall past the point of audible range sinking into the earth of the track.
A complete change of venue. What sounds like the hustle and bustle of a public space fades in. Waves of voices repeat the songs title Three Peas in a Pod. What sounds like Alison, our artificial host from before, chimes in saying very much the same thing. Cue canned laughter that sounds as if its ripped from some terrible American sitcom.
The two final interludes come next (a reminder that this album should be played on shuffle). The first with a labyrinthine feeling to it. The high pitched tunes seem to mock the listener as they descend further, the whirling organ sounds spinning and repeating to the point of nausea.
The second interlude is more positive. A solid bass sound appears underneath the organs in this track. And a piano daintily dances above these two parts, sometimes slipping into discordant eeriness. What sounds to be a vocal line begins to stab notes in tandem with the continuous pad sounds. An intensity builds up, somewhere in the strange clusters of notes Petridisch actions there is a tense energy building up as he slides up semitones unexpectedly. But the track cuts off before any climax can be made of this feeling.
Ghostly voices fade in repeating the hilarious song name Heavy Chicken. Some voices sounding more real than others, all of them clambering together to create a strange and almost intimidating aura.
A trio of songs to sleep to concludes this assortment of songs. Petridisch pushes waves up twilight synth toward us as we begin to be lulled into the safety and security of sleep. The trio of songs that conclude emit this beautifully tranquil energy. There is a melancholia present in the first track. A pure and honest melody through the obscuring haze of the synths. The high pitched melody struggles through toward the listener as if it was coming from a tinny radio by a bed side. As if we are catching the last gleamings of it before our mind enters into the world of sleep.
The second part takes a more triumphant turn. We’ve crossed the threshold into sleep and it sounds as though our sleep is going to be a pleasant one. A slumber buffeted by these vibrating keys and phasing chords as well. Toward the end, we move upwards still, our place of rest being drawn above the clouds as Petridisch flies us higher and higher.
We waver between the ground below and the endless sky. The incessant chord progression soundtracking our steady glide through the air. The sleep songs are a welcome end to an exciting tumultuous experience. Bursting with positive melodies and full thick synth sounds.
At some points, Petridisch pulls on a composing power similar to that of Tomita. Laden with melodic energy and unpredictable shifts up and down. But in some tracks the artist showcases an imaginative sampling ability. Slowing sounds down to their breaking point, they are able to refined and augmented. The Minidisc plays with a fun and rewarding energy throughout.