Whether it be to escape old experiences or to embrace new ones, travel exposes people to novel environments, stimulates their curiosity and challenges them to think differently. In that way, music and travel are very similar, with both sharing a transportive ability to lead the listener to an unfamiliar destination with the journey being wholly different for every person undertaking it.
For Will Wiesenfeld (aka Geotic), the transportive power of music served as the inspiration behind new album Traversa. Each song on the follow up to his Abysma album translates as a snippet from a very personal musical travel log with him able to evoke the feelings and memories of every journey traveled and new destination reached.
Opener “Knapsack” begins with playful bleeps and glitches that ripple outwards joined by gleaming, bright synths and a steady beat. Sharing a similar aesthetic to Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights”, Wiesenfeld crafts a rich, electropop soundscape with a catchy synth hook sweeping through it. His soft voice drifts through the song, rarely raised above a whisper but its light, laid-back air is deceptive. On closer inspection there is a bitter-sweetness to the lyrics as he looks to pack up and escape, knowing that he can’t stay where he is any longer. (“Somewhere I might be / A modern human being / But not here”).
“Swiss Bicycle” is a wonderfully realized mix of electronics and organic instrumentation. Lead by a playful synth loop that seems to be actively running from the sweeping strings that trail it, Wiesenfeld cleverly teases out a hypnotic groove that can’t help but raise a smile. The densely layered synths of “Harbor Drive” are spliced with a slightly off-kilter piano motif that glitters against the sound of water. Featuring smooth harmonies that float like warm breath in the early evening sky, Wiesenfeld again creates a real sense of dizzying, wonder.
“Aerostat” is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful things he has ever recorded. With gentle exhales of synths like nebulous clouds that gather then dissipate like smoke, Wiesenfeld’s voice coils itself gently around the music with a fragility that suggest it might simply evaporate. It feels like a heart-wrenchingly personal song as he sounds only just able to voice his hurt on lovelorn lines like “and I let you go” and “I Love you more / Than you will ever know.”
The more urgent “Town Square” opens with a rolling beat that quickens into step, embellished by a looping synth line and twinkling notes that rise like burning embers from a freshly extinguished fire. Again, Wiesenfeld layers in sweeping strings that give it real emotional resonance. “Terraformer” rides a wave of colorful hooks with each one subtly binding together.
“Gondolier” could be the soundtrack to the safest, most relaxing dream you’ve ever had. Airy electropop synth lines compliment each other as light strings glide in and out on a hook-filled, radiant stream. Album closer “Maglev” weaves in synth runs that burst like fireworks, sumptuous strings and the distant pop of percussion. The whole thing builds to a blooming, field of sound with each element caught in a harmonious dance before backing away on a spellbinding end to the album.
Traversa feels like an album with the details still be discovered. Details that can only be fully realized in the mind of the listener as they embark on a journey with Wiesenfeld with the destination as yet to be decided. Musically, it is a vividly inventive album with bold use of sonic textures and full of gleaming hooks. Traversa is certainly a journey worth taking.