While still in label infancy, Spectrum Spools has quickly emerged as one of electronic music’s most prolific imprints, releasing nearly 30 records since launching in early 2011. However, it’s still last year’s self-titled debut from Brooklyn’s Forma that stands as one of the Editions Mego offshoot’s finest moments.
Bringing a live, drum-equipped approach to their Kraut-inspired jams, the trio managed to rise above the swell of arpeggiated synth groups, giving a real-life human feel to what can often be a very synthetic experience. For the followup, OFF/ON, Forma haven’t lost any of that humanistic touch, making the wise move of sticking to their sonic game plan as they set out to improve and expand on what came before.
However, OFF/ON is no repeat; the album is noticeably darker than the band’s debut, at times even verging on horror-score territory, bringing with it faster tempos, as well as a more aggressive approach. The synth-play comes out denser and more intricate as layers cascade up and down the record, while the driving drum work is more propulsive than ever. Still, it all feels effortless in the best way possible, working you into one hell of a trance as the album glides along like some frictionless deep-sea swim.
While so many of the trio’s peers in the American synth underground are busy trying to reinvent themselves and ditch all things drone, Forma sound like they could care less about any waxing or waning trends, instead focusing all their energies on making a killer record — something OFF/ON most definitely is.