Released under the name Nonpareils, Scented Pictures is the debut solo album from Aaron Hemphill and his first recordings since an amicable departure from Liars in 2016. The songs on Scented Pictures, recorded by Hemphill in Berlin, are directly inspired by concepts relating to memories, or more accurately the sensory experience of memory. The tracks brim with poppy ideas and lush color, yet their structures aim at defying logic, filtering the songs into strange new psychedelic corners.
Hemphill believes that encouraging the brain to fill in the gaps in something – be it a piece of music or a specific memory – leads to an amplified, more vivid experience for the listener. The snippets of sound and image inside Scented Pictures' songs were mostly culled from the musician's own memory, and tinted by his entry into a new solo phase in his career. The songwriting displayed on Scented Pictures is metaphysically restructured pop, the wealth of sounds and sonic processes at Hemphill's disposal having diversified and warped since Mess, his final studio album with Liars.
Based in Berlin since 2015, Hemphill started working on Scented Pictures by recording stacks of acoustic instruments while, in his words, "doing the silliest things." He played the drums without click tracks, encouraged his engineer to distract him, and played the piano while allowing poorly set-up microphones to fall away from the body of the instrument. Ultimately the sound palette grew out further, taking in a vast array of virtual instrumentation too, all glitched and processed into off-kilter music.
Having sought out new sources of inspiration following a long period of focusing solely on instrumental music, Scented Pictures sees Hemphill's songwriting take on yet another new form, mutating into something woozier and increasingly abstract – without sacrificing the hooks in the process.