The Formalist realm is one in which melancholically pensive ambiences intertwine in curious companionship with electronica, to come upon some uncharted auditory panorama. The Brooklyn duo’s soundscape puts “unique” into perspective, enchanting listeners all around.

Following the release of two captivating singles Happenstance and Finite, the group returns with yet another stirring introspection A = N.

The human condition is a concept pumping through the veins of The Formalist’s songwriting, as they capture elements of being alive in delicate sonic motions. One inescapable symptom of this thing we call life is memory: remembering, reflecting, reminiscing. Forgetting.

A = N is a stunning representation of our memory cycle, symbolically named after the lyric: every day we trade amnesia for nostalgia.


It begins with full-bodied synthetic strings that induce a plaintive, but not pitiful feeling, before broadening with soft, ritualistic drums and a hearty bassline beneath. Different effects shimmer around the main instrumental sequences like a lost moment returning or fluttering by. It sounds ruminative, inviting listeners to conjure their own memories and moments they may have forgotten.

A couple of minutes in we’re transitioned to a bridge section of acoustic guitar and percussion. This intimate moment radiates serenity. A simple string solo leads the way, before surrendering the song back into its programmed arrangement.

There are lots of lyrical and instrumental hooks about A = N that play into the theme of memory and mental revisitation. Around each corner, each new phase of the song, there is something recognisable for your ears to latch on to. It sparks all kinds of emotions.

The words are pretty but ominous and don’t lend a great deal to the track. However, leading lyrics aren’t necessary in this composition, as the music itself has so much to offer.

The Formalist has spun something special here. An embodiment of memory itself that feels so familiar.

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