Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Selvedge’s latest album mutiny starts with numb pulsation of sound. The introduction almost sounds like a phone with a nasty cold vibrating. The track (with the same title as the album as a whole) lurches forward with panicked percussion and a unpredictable bassline. Every so often the bass and drums will carry on solo for a while, only to have the whirring melodic percussion follow along a while after. The sounds are intricate and well thought-out. Each time the higher frequency sound kicks in it sounds as though some great machine is wheezing into life after a long time of being inactive. Selvedge begins the album with hurried track of engaging sounds with a layer of fuzz and cold obscuring what’s underneath.
Casino Grin’s reversed percussion sounds like something being unstuck from a surface. A timeless synth butts it’s way in, a blanket of distorted noise shifting from inaudible low notes to detuned highs. It seems the artist purposely moves away from a pristine electronic sound that so many artists strive for, navigating his way through murky sounds that submerge the stereo field. Through the sludge we will catch onto the beat being etched out by the percussion, but even that can dip in and out of quantification at times.
Rolled begins with a more melody-driven sound. What sounds like a tuned pipe fed through some minor distortion strikes a sequence. It’s almost like someone playing a well-known dance tune on rusted pipes deep underground. An injection of bass stuns the listener. Again, Selvedge employs low sounds that almost feel as if they have a sinus infection. A heavy rhythm begins to take shape. Out of that a tune begins to emerge, heard between the sharp percussive elements, the tunes don’t gel in a classical sense. The listener has already understood that this is what Selvedge does, we follow the artists as he trawls a dissonant and intimidating sea bed and brings up tunes of curiosity and of note for us to hear.
Dares starts with a strike of percussion. A hi-hat follows along with an infectious rhythm. The bass drum then appears as well. A droning sound falls from the striking sound that fills the nether regions of the track. A tune begins soothing the skeletal nature of the drum sequence. Hopping from one chord to the other a playful tune follows along with the slow-moving percussion. The two sounds then shed the hazy characteristics they began with, becoming more timid and clear. The two-tone melody deviates for a while, stretching into more creative territory. The droning strike begins once again, slowly pulling itself to the top of the mix. The synth strikes out with a piercing high note, as it does so we can hear all the other distortion it is laden with. The track makes one of the more approachable and positive excursions on the album, a playful rhythm and a happy melody.
Garden Montage starts with a barrage of distorted, pixelated percussion. Selvedge let’s the sounds fester, the full unaffected sound lying just out of reach of the listeners ear. A pure synth plays simple notes alongside the unpredictable sounds. Selvedge creates these twisted and deformed entities that show signs of life and tunefulness at certain junctures, only to become strange dissonant sounds almost instantly after. The drums are laden with an effect that almost plays a melodic sequence. The sound glitches, creating a repetitive sound, like a computer program malfunctioning before ceasing completely.
Universe Next Door begins with an oddly organic bass sound appearing from the murky depths. The listener can almost hear the distorted sound of the string being twanged. Drums follow suit, swift and minimal they help to create a rushed and engaging rhythm. A hi-hat sound fizzles uncontrollably on every off-beat, the clearness of the sound making the rest of it sound as if it’s trapped in shallow water.
Shimmering Action falls into a steady beat with a muffled bass and scratchy, high-frequency percussion. That percussion almost feels half pristine, half dirty. It has a sheen to it, but the sound has a bite that is covered in rust. A droning instrument interjects with rhythmic feedback as the bass falls back. But as it jumps back out again, Selvedge’s talent at moulding and controlling sounds is clearly displayed. The bass peaks it’s head above the murk, threatening to open the walls of its frequency completely. All the while, feedback revolves in time. The slow-moving, low frequency aspects of the song show us to the end.
Night Eyes has a more definitively heavy feel to it. Besides an organic, watery drum the bass falls onto the stereo field, keeping rhythm and washing the soundscape with a monotone bass sound. At many points in the album, Selvedge is focused on the relationship between two distinct sounds. They play out for a fairly long period together, seeing which will assert dominance. A fizzling note inches into the ecosystem of sound, the remnants of which echo longer than the two stalwart aspects that begin the song. This sound matches up and down in time with the rhythm, half dissonant and half melodic. The steadiness of the tracks is unshakable, even through major feedback and sonic turmoil, the parts that Selvedge stands up at the beginning often make their way through to the end.
After an Image brings proceedings to a close. A rough recorded percussion sequence almost sounds like a broken machine wheezing it’s last few breaths. It continues through, like a ambling steam train. Above it, a melodic sprite appears following along. The tail end of it drifts, opening up the landscape before us. The initial sound begins to push hard against its cage, causing it to distort and shift its sound. Beneath this a great echoed noise builds and dissipates at the back end of the mix. A plume of sound disappearing that we can only sense if we look back from where the song places us. Feedback whirs, struggling to push some tuneful melody through a restrictive cage of equalisation. The sprite melody still plays above everything, like a guiding light through the dark dredges of the sound. Several times, the feedback of the sounds overthrows the sounds themselves as the screeching nothingness is played at the forefront of the mix. It’s nature is dense and overpowering, but Selvedge seems to wrestle into some sort of listenable stasis.
It’s a fitting end. The artist wrangles the dissonant many times in the album. Seemingly more interested in the relationships of textures and timbres then the symbiosis of notes and sounds, Mutiny screeches and wails like some enormous machine slowly eating itself. Rhythm is evidently important, each song seemed to find a slow, almost lumbering speed at which to play. It is a journey through the depths of synthesised sound, and Selvedge does not relent at any point.
Listen in full/purchase on tape here: https://selvedge-000.bandcamp.com/album/mutiny