Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Spindly notes begin 月光 ｔ ｅ ｍ ｐ ｌ ｅ . Though a rich cushion of birdsong and natural sound follows, nātūra’s initial sound is overtly melodic. The explicit nature of the notes pulling toward an atmosphere more of musicality than of ambience. This is then supported by a huge billowing of chords. Thick pads fill the soundscape, drifting gently and slowly unfurling into the distance. We now hear those sharp notes weave gently into the blanket of sound. The sequence of pads is ambivalent, swaying from emotive notes to more explorative cadences. And as we end on an ebbing, uncertain chord that is much lighter than the deep rushes of sound that have come before, we get the feeling that バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ’s intention was to introduce us to a style that balances melody and natural sound in a perennially engaging manner.
The sound of waves begins the second track that shares its name with album as a whole. The sound of digitised corruption and the lapping water meld into one, as a phasing pad emerges from over the horizon. A soft but governing bassline begins, setting out a reassuringly simple chord progression. The gentle percussion joins with the pads that stretch through the expansive space バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ has provided. From there the artist employs the primordial energy of the panpipes to breathe a mystique into the track. The trills fit neatly into the sequence of bass notes, the sibilant background noise seeming to push the instrumentation forward as if we are being guided by a great wind over a tranquil landscape. As the track progresses, panpipes begin to harmonise with each other, stretching out towards the sky in intense, high-pitched leaps. The video for the track plays with hypnotic visuals. The dreamy combination of a neon city with the untarnished beauty of nature, both ever-moving and flowing in their own way.
A deeply moving shroud of sound fades in as the aptly named Soul & Mind begins. A rapping hand on a drum speeds and slows, creating that spiritually invigorating feeling of enlightenment. It echoes out into a large space as the pad shifts in pitch. It is as if the track prior was our arduous journey, and we stand on a gaping precipice in this track. The echo of the drums stretches across a sublime plain, the twinkling chimes as our mind opens itself, the abnormal shifting pads like our perception warping under the strain of this mental awakening.
The manipulated pads continue over into The Curse of the Abyss, slowly dripping from their solid state as dulcet notes glint in the beating sun. A more progressive melody pushes through, the tone more tuneful and resonant. A simple two-part chord sequence instils a sense of comfort and tranquility. The warm sound of the panpipes again breathing images of pristine mountain vistas and flowing water that falls down deep into the earth. A lead riff begins to soar over our heads, its crisp body allowing us to hear the echoes it leaves behind. We build to a simplistic drumbeat, laced with hissing reverb. An alternate motif begins, rising out of the damp of the caves below. The track is the longest on the album, but plays out with a beautiful freedom and engaging sound, as both the lower and higher sections of バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ’s world are further refined.
月読 feels as though we join a bird in flight. The soft pipe melody representing the pink and blue sky, the angular melodies that float in are the creature’s wings as they expand and contract, the whistling melody that follows is the bird’s graceful path through the air. Every part of the track is indebted to creating a vertiginous experience.
Fairy Forest seeps in with a decidedly more synth-y feeling to it. The panpipes are more labyrinthine and intimidating. Here, バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ takes an opportunity to let the lead melody guide everything. The chord progressions invite the duelling panpipe melodies to push themselves further into the air. As sounds begin to peel off and flutter toward the ground, we realise the artist has pushed us to a dauntingly high precipice once again. And as chord and melody meet in a loving embrace around the 3-minute mark we find ourselves gliding through the air. The negative energy glittering and sparkling as it falls from us, inched on by the incredibly dramatic riff.
The deep and realistic plains that we’ve been exploring squash together into more of a 2D experience on River. Its as if we sit by a flowing brook, the view in front of us slowly contracting together to form a solid wall. A beautifully chiptune-ish lead set amidst a fairly simplistic pipe chord progression. The artist plays with our perception, instilling the same New Age cadences, but transforming the depth and textures at play.
Back to great, sweeping pads that move like huge clouds of vapour on Mountains. A simplistic, reverbed drum beat offers a plinth for a wonderful melody to take to the air. The reverberation from this lead section seeming to bounce back toward us from the mountains we glide through. Though the overwhelming feelings are of a tranquil atmosphere, the artist is intent to provide the listener with an interesting and engaging melodic journey. The instrument climbs in pitch, leading to a meaningful crescendo as it screeches in a wondrous climax. After this バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ brings us back softly to the comforting main hook.
More fiery, whistling synth emerges on Born. It shines out loudly and confidently as a wall of positive bass and gentle pad sounds cushion it. The artist makes this exchange the focal point of the track, the synth pushing ever higher, the listener calmed and soothed by the powerful rumble of instrumentation behind. This instrumentation lasts until the end, the progressive riff becoming more of a natural undulation toward the end.
A crystalline roll of bells begins the conclusive track The Castle in the Sky. Euphonious in a noticeably different way than most of the breathy instruments featured so far, tinged with a more personable emotion than the spiritualistic new age of the previous tracks. These keys succumb to a dark, cavernous echo, alongside trickling, starry notes. A wash of sound emerges, a low rumbling. The concern caused by this uncanny noise is eased by another pleasing, glassy piano sound. The beautiful notes begin to crash into each other in a disorientating echo. It feels as though we have found shelter from the intensity of the outside, travelling into the depths of our own soul somewhere secluded after having explored this sprawling, sublime landscape.
バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ’s album is one of incredibly grand proportion. Through the implementation of smooth, flowing momentum and New Age-inspired instrumentation 月光 ｔ ｅ ｍ ｐ ｌ ｅ satiates the soul’s unquenchable thirst for meaningful music.