Pure Trick is Bella Monet, a Juilliard student who has just released her first EP, x3. The EP is electronic -- perhaps a break from the mold of her classical training, perhaps her own revisualization of her classical training. While many electronic musicians (e.g. Brainfeeder’s Teebs) relish in the fact that electronic music can be created without an intimate knowledge of harmony or theory, it is clear that Bella knows her way around chords and melodies.
The first track, “train yr pokemon,” opens with an in-your-face drum beat wielding a wonderfully loose high-hat sound, a tight snare, a round bass drum, and an upbeat ~125 BPM. After a few bars, an inviting, elegant sustained chord pattern is played. It’s a confident start — one that tells you a lot about Bella’s style. Although her album artwork may be a silly looking (adorable) kitten, her music is quite strong and proud. She may be laying some sweet chords and eventually some gentle ambient textures to the track, but that persistent drumbeat doesn’t lessen in intensity.
Bella’s production is exceptionally colorful. The second track, “///wander\\\” could be a soundtrack to a traverse through an underwater dreamworld. The synths rise and fall like waves, the ambient textures craft the beautiful sand below, the clever bass and snare hits provide the current, and a bold noisy climax shows how much depth there is to the scene. It’s quite the soundscape, and its created in only three short minutes.
The standout track, in my opinion, is the final track — “idk yet (feat. slow friendly).” This track is the most complex, the most textured, and the most dynamic on the EP. The intro displays a tug of war between a rich synth chord and an oscillating glitchy synth. But soon both give way to an arpeggiated melody with liberal use of delay, and one of the more sparse drumbeats heard on the project. Bella doesn’t let the listener get too used to any one configuration on this track, though. As soon as one synth starts to feel comfortable, she layers another one in, creating a strong sense of ascension.
After the initial climax, Bella simplifies the track back down to a few synths and a gorgeous arpeggiated bell melody. The expertly crafted lead melody that pops in isn’t stationary — it’s dynamic and it evolves as the song progresses. And this moment in the track is where Bella shows her mastery of all things pitch. She relies on that same lead synth as it rises in pitch, similar to how a guitarist might signify the high-point of a solo, to build up the final climactic moment. And yes, the sounds around this synth, begin to grow and blossom creating a beautiful effervescent sonic environment, but the emotion comes from the vulnerability created by the higher, thinner notes of the lead melody played with a ton of passion.
Although this is Pure Trick’s first EP, it is a strong release displaying Bella’s skill and artistry as a composer and beatmaker. She understands the lifecycle of a song, stringing together ebbs and flows, builds and declines with successful care. I’m excited to see what she has in store for us next, and I’m excited to see how she grows this colorful aesthetic she has sculpted for herself.
x3 can be streamed and downloaded on Pure Trick’s Bandcamp