Personnel: Sophie Lam, Mark Dwinell (Moog synthesizer, Oberheim synthesizer).
Audio Mixer: Andrew Veres.
Recording information: Schoolhoue, Brooklyn, NY (01/2012-08/2012); The Star Room II, Cleveland, OH (01/2012-08/2012); WBAR, NY (01/2012-08/2012); Schoolhoue, Brooklyn, NY (04/2012); The Star Room II, Cleveland, OH (04/2012); WBAR, NY (04/2012); Schoolhoue, Brooklyn, NY (08/2012); The Star Room II, Cleveland, OH (08/2012); WBAR, NY (08/2012).
Photographer: Kaja Thrastardottir.
Starting with as perfect a cutting-edge sound as one could want from 1979 -- zoned and droned keyboards, sequencers running rampant, and drum machine precision mania -- Forma continue their back-to-the-future love on their second full release, Off/On, serving up another batch of short tracks that all sound like they should be incidental music on Omni-sponsored documentaries. The opening "Off" indeed couldn't be better as a statement-of-purpose fanfare on that front alone. Otherwise, aside from the later "Mécanique" -- at 11 minutes, the album's longest and most entrancing piece -- as with the first album things follow a basic title format of band name and number, giving the sense of installations in a larger process. Sometimes that results in things that steer away from re-creation to new inspiration -- thus "Forma 286B" feels shaped by shoegaze's impact on electronic music in recent years, a shimmering overload underscored by a quick rhythm, as much as it does from the space rock that helps usher in these textures toward wider audiences. "Forma 278" moves along like a gently propulsive trip down a river under a moon that's not quite ours, while "Forma 293" has a cheery sprightliness that still feels like an alien transmission, a bit of cool amusement that's not unfriendly. The short minute-long numbers that act as bridges between the longer ones further underscore the idea of a soundtrack without a movie, as with the skittering chitters on "Forma 313" and the quick swirl of "Forma 358." ~ Ned Raggett