Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Firelight begins the album. Initially a pulsing sound pushing its way into the foreground. This is bolstered almost instantly by lethargic hi-hats stretching and elongating the rhythm. Behind that, a squelching bass line and repetitive guitar begin. What was a simplistic loop now explodes into a multifarious sequence. The pulsing sound set on a constant revolution, passing nearby us every so often. The drums have a sentience that doesn’t abide by its surroundings completely. The space clears as they drop out. Menacing sounds float around the stereo field. One particular note rises above the rest before falling back into formation as the steady beat begins once again.
Fizzing samples seem to break down at the very start of Exodus. But similarly to the previous track, a steady drumbeat picks up the pieces. Clattering hi-hats fall just behind the tempo, the lower percussive sounds move like some old android trying to walk after years of stagnancy. A distorted sound twists and writhes at the very front. A cold beeping appears at the end of almost every beat, reaching out to a distant landscape we can’t see past the chaos happening in front of us. Things settle down momentarily, a note falls in pitch as if we’ve suddenly lost it down a dark cavern to somewhere unknown. Exquisite Ghost uses a bewildering amount of layers to achieve these effects, but the intricacy the producer uses does not go amiss.
814 begins with a thin layer of low poly synths like holographic fog. It seeps in slowly. Suddenly the darkness sets in. A visceral, organic sounding rhythm starts. It’s cadences feeling as if it were almost a living creature. The beat sets the track off kilter, it’s fast and unrelenting, allowing little time for the listener to catch up. A loud, unsure synth lead takes the reigns, wobbling slightly. It comes crashing down into contact with the rest of the track, rising and falling heavily. The initial motif continues, a slow rising sound ascends above all else. Sounding thin and meek, it still manages to find a space above the hypnotic sequence. The main synth turns eerie, hammering the same chord, low like an organ. All drops out for a moment, the synth loses interest in uniformity, the drums give one last rebuttal, and then silence.
Mandala is spritely in tone, the melody follows along an unkempt and unpredictable pathway. A looming synth tone eases its way in, giving additional depth and atmosphere to the scene. This gradually becomes more frequent, the counterpointing of sounds resulting in a duality within the track. The texture of the prominent melody shifts in an engaging and thoughtful manner, with the tumultuousness of a lively classical piece. The higher notes burst out, more charged and intense than the bed of lower notes. Suddenly just before the end, a flurry of notes brings us up and down rapidly as we come to a somewhat sudden halt.
Tamura begins with a beautiful, simplistic drum pattern. A bell sound begins to pave a complex and multi-faceted pathway through the rhythm. Each melody is tapered down by the short yet powerful percussion, at some points certain notes and motifs are allowed to float forth from their cell, but only momentarily. The bass notes are arranged into wonderfully linear patterns, giving the piece a real stalwart sound and presence.
Dead Hands begins with a full and vibrant sampled undermined by a chaotic loop and novelty-sounding drum parts. The beat drives ever onwards, computerised sounds bleed out of every little movement. Euphoric samples can be heard through the rhythm, only to be silenced by the clear beat of the track. The whole piece feels as if it’s wading through a shallow pool. Both parts of it juxtapose each other, making for a slight duality. It hypnotises the listener, they stretch themselves along with the gradually slowing tempo. More meaningful and emotive melodies seep in, but are swiftly pushed to the back by the overarching bassline.
Coffee starts with a glittering sample tumbling down through notes gracefully. What could possibly be a harp sound, takes the listener under canopies of whistling, through low frequency samples. One of these finds a beat they want to stick with and instils a regularity in the track. That same glittering sample appears every now and again, faded into the background. Exquisite Ghost seems to use silence to create dissonance. The beat almost never ends and comes back in as part of a quantified rhythm, everything is loose and organic, but jarring in this modern world of artificially quantified tempo.
Offbreath eases in with a loosely strung instrument, unmistakably some sort of sitar. It’s charged with a certain distortion that is engaging and effective. Reversed sounds chaperone it through, giving the whole track the feeling of an endless stream of sound.
The very last track Nine of Eight of Six starts with a beautiful symbiosis of mellow bells and vitalised strings. The two do not necessarily follow each other’s lead, but are able to co-exist peacefully. The result is certainly one of the more rich and affecting moments of the album. Synth pads grow and then recede. The two main instruments find a shared understanding gradually, playing the same trills and motifs. Astonishing production work allows us to listen to both simultaneously. The strings are sharp and sometimes stubborn in their melody. The beauty of both sounds is curated perfectly by Exquisite Ghost. The strings disappear and the bells strike alone for a short while until they too are called away from us and we are left with nothing.