Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to find and write about a physical piece of music (CD, album or cassette) they had no prior knowledge of. You can find out how it all unfolded by browsing our music section.
I was shopping around Hitt Records in Columbia, Missouri, for CDs to add to my growing collection (unfortunately, my 2006 Nissan doesn’t have an auxiliary jack). I searched for about 15 minutes before heading to the register. After some careful consideration and analyzation of my purchases, the owner Kyle Cook gave me three CDs and a Post-It note and I headed out the door.
One of those recommendations was Traversa by Geotic (2018).
Located in sunny Los Angeles, Will Wiesenfeld is the mastermind behind the artistic persona Geotic. This is actually only one of Wiesenfeld’s monikers, though. His current stage name is Baths and he went by [Post-foetus] before that.
It’s no secret that songs have structure, but it seems the eight tracks that make up the roughly 44-minute long album take it a step further. They’re almost geometric as each song is built around a strong core while everything else moves around it specific ways. It’s clear after listening that Wiesenfeld favors sharp electronic percussion, fade-outs, and orchestral surprises under his Geotic guise.
He kicks off Traversa with “Knapsack”. The upbeat track opens with sharp cymbals straight from a percussion launchpad set against the sound of chirping birds and moving water. The chorus, which reads “Somewhere I might be/ A modern human being/ But not here, not with a hundred thousand trees/ Miles taller than me,” fits well with the outdoorsy mood he conjures up.
Following “Knapsack” is “Swiss Bicycle”, one of several instrumental tunes on the record. Wiesenfeld continues to play with cymbals here as well and throws in ambient noise that sounds like dryers in a laundromat. It’s a cool song, but starts to feel a little too repetitive. Then around 3:15, the song begins to soften. The digital “do-do-do’s” take a backseat, isolating the dryer-like noises and sad violin before shifting upright again.
“Harbor Drive,” “Aerostat,” and “Gondolier,” the third, fourth and seventh songs on Traversa, are the odd ones out. They move away from the lightheartedness of the other tracks into more lowkey territory. “Harbor Drive” immediately creates a scene of someone alone on a dock at dusk due to it’s somber synth layered with the caws of seagulls.
The track is captivating for a number of reasons, but the breathy harmonies and waves toward the end round out the song perfectly. “Aerostat” is even more lowkey than its predecessor. Its subtle opening crescendo and “thump-thumping” are what make this song the “what x would sound like in a bathroom at a party” meme come to life.
The fifth track “Town Square” isn’t a standout on the album, but it plays with contrast and texture through electronic elements juxtaposed with the sounds of everyday life: feet shuffling against the pavement and cars passing by on the road.
Geotic’s lyrics and vocals shine through on “Terraformer.” He plays around with layering, volume and pitch while reciting things like, “Space flight and intimacy/ Long responsibility/ Boredom spreads like disease/ Come take your toll on me” and “Space flight and resiliency/ Inseparable entities/ Like lichen to stone or roots to tree/ Do I even have it in me?”
The album’s closer doesn’t quite hold up against those that came before it. “Maglev” is the most experimental sonically (it sounds like the club remix of a classical song), but it comes at a price. The various sounds and noises are busy at times and it’s easy to get bored of with a six-minute run time.
Traversa definitely isn’t an album meant to provoke an existential crisis or to inspire a fiery breakup. In fact, it was purposely created that way.
Wiesenfeld’s bio on Bandcamp for Geotic reads, “ambient/passive listening stuff since 2008.” You can recognize the talent needed to produce the songs, but don’t have to do any heavy lifting in order to appreciate it.
So, if you’re someone who finds it difficult to listen to certain music while doing homework or simply want something to stare at your ceiling to, Traversa is a great place to start.
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