Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Soul▲Craft gives us an unsure start to the album with TO BE || HUMAN. Clouds of lossy piano keys float on a wavering breeze. Deep sounds linger in the distance. As the piano descends, the audio quality decreases. A sludge of dark piano keys. All of a sudden Soul▲Craft lifts the keys out of the depths in a less than triumphant conclusion. The listener is left with an off-chord ringing out repeatedly.
天来 INFERNO picks up from the brooding piano with piercing, almost vampiric string sounds. Heavily overloaded, they fall into a steady action film rhythm. The melodies wind through the distortion, but they are an afterthought of the white-knuckle texture of the track. It cracks and fizzes under the pressure of the sounds. Vocal samples begin to sound too. A voice appears only to be snatched back into nothingness, overpowered by the thundering drumbeat. More broken stereo textures from Soul▲Craft when we near the conclusion, a low piano chord can just about be heard through the restrictive equalisation. The main hook melody is intoxicating and sees us through to the end.
ひどい天使 starts with paper thin synth work similar to Hell’s Interface. The melody of which is then taken forward by syncopated strings and a heavy, stop/start drumline. The two contrast each other in a wonderful duet. A deep voice yawns over the fizzling production. Slowly, Soul▲Craft is easing in emotive melodies. Yelping of an indiscriminate nature attacks us halfway through proceedings, the listener has been somewhat of a rag-doll so far. The producer throwing distorted and interesting sound bites at us as we try to wade through the thick sheet of instrumentation.
聖なる寺院の内側 fades in very slowly. Bells fall into the realms of the soundscape, a careless and simplistic melody with a solemn string easing it forward. Here Soul▲Craft hits us with a heavily emotive melody line. Cymbals cascade alongside a melancholy tune. The notes of which whirl around the space pirouetting to the steady rhythm. The track is undeniably beautiful, more so as it feels detached and isolated from what we’ve heard so far. Dramatic drum lines strive to be heard from miles away.
DIRTY NEEDLES picks the listener up with a more upbeat rhythm. Screeching guitar strings glide at the sides of the stereo field, easing us forward with the slapping snare and synth struggling in the midst of the noise. Almost sounding like a Duran Duran track that has gone off the rails, the absence of a human aspect makes the listener feel strangely out of place.
HIS WINGED MESSENGER stretches and lowers The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic to be a clambering, slow-moving machine of a hook. Dichotomised by a maniac synth sound that suddenly skyrockets upwards. The feeling of cautious optimism nestled in the original track is beautifully displayed in a stained, glass box. The individual notes distorted, the feeling obscured.
崩壊する太陽を見つめて’s sample is of a wide-moving bass sound. Heavily restricted behind percussion, the sound fights for prominence, it’s lower elements sweeping through. An emotive string sound suddenly climbs to the top, the hi-hats follow suit, trying to push it further and further onwards out of the muffled noise. The track stops suddenly and another sound is introduced, somewhat similar to the first sample, only to disappear and be replaced by a solemn note. The instrumentation starts up again, feelings of struggle and uncertainty abound in the aesthetic and tonal make-up of the piece.
CRAVEN EARTHLY PLEASURES sample bandies around the echoing soundscape. Each liquid note falling into the next, buffeted by airy pads. We suddenly fall into a slow waltz that rises and falls, with a repeating, high-pitched bell indicating to us the way through. The vocal samples are incredibly majestic, floating on the waves emitted by the instrumentation. The ethereal sound drips from every waltzing bar, the incessant bell with the lightness of an angel lost in euphoria. The juddered vocal samples like stone faces with elements carved out and morphed, barely recognisable but intransigently captivating.
形無し drifts in with an uncertainty seeping in through the muted guitar chords and incessant humming notes. Again, broken and distorted vocal loops cause a partly religious image while the listener travels through. Almost like Echo and the Bunnymen have teamed up with a group of demented choir singers.
THERE IS || NO END TO THIS LIFE beautifully employs the instrumentation of Christopher Cross. The original track a tranquil experience, Soul▲Craft has unleashed its more agitated and violent melodies. It hisses and drops in tone suddenly, making for an strange and ambivalent experience.
HER DIVINE BODY pushes piano chords through a breathy, slow-moving track. Low guitar notes like warbling animals slowly amble through. A timid organ takes the reigns midway through the track. It plays a feeble, innocent tune. The full instrumentation returns, and glitches almost falling out of its own structure. A triumphant synth rises out of the melancholia momentarily. The more neutral tracks at the start have almost been washed away by the painful, almost religious sadness breathed through the last few tracks.
LEVITATION again, starts with morose chords played on a never ending pad. A heartbroken vocalist stands atop an infinite abyss, singing about lost love into the empty darkness. That vision clears, replaced by clean, chorused piano. The drums push through melody line. The heaviness of the percussion is often a driving force throughout the album. Soul▲Craft urging us onward, not to dwell too long on the soul-crushing melodies heard.
GILDED MASK OF ETERNITY switches up the feeling. A low saxophone curls notes through a rain-drenched street. As the cymbals begin to ease in, it seems to be trying to create more explorative, optimistic notes alongside a quiet piano sound. The piano plays a broken chord sequence. Something lures in the rhythmless darkness.
シャンデリアスカイビュー sparks into life. Glittering piano and synth ease us up from the depths and gloom. The instrumentation explodes into life. A dramatic energy flies up above us, the beautiful vocals lost in the reverberating sound of the heavenly location we have found ourselves in. The end is happy, tinged with tear-jerking emotion. Soul▲Craft just lets the sample loose, the warring guitars are lost to eternity. The song is an unrelenting catharsis to the earlier instances of sadness and strangeness.
Soul▲Craft really has created a special album here. An album that’s make-up and overall feeling is hard to pin down, yet thoroughly engaging and enthralling.
Listen here: http://houdinimansions.bandcamp.com/album/-