Album Review: Rachel Thomasin’s “Microforms”

rachelmicroformsRachel Thomasin is an independent singer/songwriter based in Boston, who uses “an eclectic variety of instruments, synthesizers, and samplers” to create “experimental and atmospheric pop music” (artist bio). She has been recording since 2012, as well as performing in Boston and New York, but I discovered her just recently via Tumblr.

Her 2013 album R. Thomasin is quite an accomplishment, and her latest release Microforms (above) made my Best Albums of 2014. On social media, Thomasin explains that her albums contain tracks she releases in advance online, but for the newcomer, it’s nice to experience her particular brand of ethereal magic all at once. There seems to be a trend towards “little girl” vocals in melodic electronic music right now (some of it very good like Grimes and Purity Ring), but Thomasin stands out in that she has a full, warm voice with a good range and she seems to use only minimal effects on it. She’s also made her sound unique by including instruments like guitar and keyboard to flesh out the atmosphere of her songs.

The songs manage to sound organic whether they have solid dance beats or synths that float on waves of air, often within the same composition. R. Thomasin, especially, feels like a fantasy soundtrack, at the same time as it is rooted in music you could daydream along with in your bedroom.

thomasinOn Microforms, the title track and “Amber Light” have more of an electronic edge to them than anything on R. Thomasin, but they still sound earthy, even with the robotic vocal melody on “Microforms”. “Amber Light” even has a familiar sample running through it that leans towards hiphop, but it’s also reminiscent of Gary Numan’s “Cars”, so it’s an interesting mesh of styles. “Memory”, placed right in between those two, is a return to the lush beauty of the previous album, and then from there on, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. “Patterns” and “Gravitate” are elegant and beautiful, the former uplifting and the latter soulful and melancholy, but both with a sense of something coming – a feeling that swells up in many of her songs. “Patterns” manages to include laser sounds without sounding cheesy, which is a feat all on its own.

“To Anyone” and “Metamorphe” have strong, catchy melodies and beats that tap your feet for you. There is a sense of positivity throughout that shows through layers of introspection and even regret. It’s very accomplished and I would love to see how it all translates live.

Images via Rachel Thomasin’s website & Facebook

Simone Snaith

About Simone Snaith

Simone Snaith writes young adult and fantasy novels, and sings in the indie rock duo Turning Violet. A fan of scifi, fantasy, the supernatural and most things from the '80s, she enjoys reviewing music, books and movies. You can read about her own books at simonesnaith.com.
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