Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast his project Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias and you’ll get a simple response: Baths is active listening, Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.
Don’t mistake “passive listening” for anything remotely resembling apathy. Released on Ghostly International, Geotic’s Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it’s replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.
“So much of dance music is about partying and going out and having a really hardcore social experience,” Wiesenfeld says. “Dance music has never been that for me. So much of my experience listening to music is being by myself – at home or in my car.”
As with almost everything American, our dance music gravitates towards extremes. There’s big-room spectacle and strobelites, epileptic lights and steroidal drops, or stripped down techno and house cool. Big Macs or organic grass-fed Wagyu on brioche. What’s rare are albums like Abysma—ones that offer propulsive beats and immersive grooves, refined piano and string compositions occasionally buoyed by Wiesenfeld’s seraphic croon.
“I see it as being a comfortable middle ground between that crazy hyper-emotive EDM and the hyper minimal deep dark club stuff,” Wiesenfeld says. “I like both of those things in different amounts, but I like the middle ground most. It’s not showy, it’s just a comfortable emotional zone.”
Part of the inspiration comes from Wiesenfeld’s own domestic situation. A native of the San Fernando Valley, the classically trained musician has settled on the Westside, inhabiting an apartment a short ride from the ocean. It’s a relaxing and slightly displaced vibe that informs the record.
Abysma’s unspoken goal is to offer a finishing touch of décor to the apartment—eight celestial burners to rest alongside the Japanese flourishes, comic art, and framed prints. A song like “Laura Corporeal” strikes an atmospheric tone, sad and distant but still danceable. The finale, “Valiance” takes an opposite tack, ending the album on a more positive uplifting note.
It’s a very colorful but simultaneously muted album—a reflection of the music that emerged from the apartment, a rich space in physical and sonic expression.
“It’s full of art everywhere, all my comics, an amazing media set up,” Wiesenfeld says. “It’s all the stuff that I’ve saved for and wanted to have in my life but didn’t feel comfortable making it happen until I moved in here. We nested the shit out of this place.”
Consider these are emotional reveries made for those ephemeral moments at home that sometimes only feel meaningful years later. Making dinner with a loved one, playing frivolous games with an ecstatic pet, taking a brief moment of respite after a brutal day of work. Songs that feel lived-in and comfortable—imbued with feelings that can’t be faked or compartmentalized.
I'm amazed at this artist's ability to distill ingredients which sound essentially to my ears like 80's goth rock into the most uplifting -- nigh religious experience inducing -- music ever. I discovered Tycho a few years ago via YouTube; the recording was a dawn DJ set at Burning Man. Now, Burning Man and dawn are both things I prefer to avoid, but I'll bet that was a pretty awesome experience nonetheless, and I'll admit to wishing I'd been there. Madeline v. F.