Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Anticon
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Post-Rock
On his debut release, Will Wiesenfeld hadn't fully found himself, but on Obsidian, the L.A. musician delivers a much more cohesive vision. Gone are the whimsy and hair-brained sketchbook quality of Cerulean and, staying true to its title, the tone of Obsidian is far darker than the debut or the quietly released Pop Music/False B-Sides compilation. Lyrically, the album veers into bleak territory — the black plague; the cold, animal meaninglessness of loveless sex; our constant fear of God in medieval times — but musically the album is poppier than his debut, presenting a melancholic push-pull contrast of darkness and pop.
Will Wiesenfeld wanted his second album as Baths to be nothing short of an out-of-body experience. While creating, producing, and performing Cerulean by himself may have been a declaration of independence at one point, he soon felt trapped and limited behind his MPDs, unable to fully connect with crowds, and mislabeled as a "DJ." More crucially, his physical frame was failing him. Last year, a debilitating bout with E.
Back in 2011, at the cramped, sweaty confines of the Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, Will Wiesenfeld took a break from swaying along to his glowing, beat-blasting MacBook to talk with the audience. “This next stuff is really dark,” he warned, before unleashing some unfinished work that would eventually become the cursory tracks for his sophomore album, Obsidian. Indeed, compared to the bubbling glitchiness and acerbic wit Wiesenfeld displayed on Cerulean, this was fairly grim stuff: a breaking dam of twitchy, Aphex Twin-meets-FlyLo sounds that found the bespectacled and all-around urbane producer caught in fits of screaming agony.
Will Wiesenfeld's first album as Baths, Cerulean, was lovely if sometimes a bit vague, relying more on his way with dreamy sounds than songwriting. However, both are in full force on Obsidian, a set of songs that are much darker but also much catchier than his debut. They're also a lot more personal, to the point of being uncomfortably -- yet fascinatingly -- direct: Wiesenfeld's lyrics are riddled with disturbing questions and confessions that he tosses off almost casually.
Review Summary: Baths stops asking all the wrong questions.Who is Will Wiesenfeld, anyway? If the electronic producer’s debut album told us anything, it was that Baths is a sound geek at heart. Cerulean was a collection of memories that paved the way to Wiesenfeld's musical future, placed together from stuttering glitches and his favorite movies’ audio samples. And as naive as it seems now, we all found ourselves believing Wiesenfeld would keep expanding on the shameless enthusiasm Cerulean offered.And look where we are now.
The sophomore album from LA electronic musician Will Wiesenfeld, known to us as Baths, is decidedly glum. And it’s no wonder. Following the success of his acclaimed debut album, Cerulean, Baths spent the better part of a year touring and then in 2011 was stricken with a nasty bout of E. coli, which left him bedridden for months.
As electronic music expands exponentially, with its democratising force enfranchising a global network of bedrooms beatheads, anonymity reigns. Last week’s Twitter piss-around from Caribou, mathematician turned maestro producer, teasing the long-standing 'Four Tet is Burial' joke/hypothesis sent the rumour mill swirling again, acting as a case study for the pervasive possibility of owning merely a half-decent laptop and an internet connection. However, Will Wiesenfeld, aka Baths, fits the grain less comfortably, and despite being associated with the flourishing beat-scene in LA, he feels more like the romantic black sheep of the family.
Love is a symbol; words are too hard. On Cerulean, Baths’ Will Wiesenfeld got closest to capturing the warmth of romance when he was emoting from hiding places, in the way he might see fit to respond to the flattery of a Facebook fan—think typed heart emoticons, but as a song. Explaining how he felt was harder; his emotions came as loops of samples, as unlikely lines in meaningful movies.
LA-based Baths’ Will Wiesenfeld’s pent up frustrations over artistic identity and, more viscerally, a frustrating case of E coli have rendered his new album Obsidian a far cry from the post-chillwave glee of Cerulean and tracks like Aminals. Instead, while the songs on Obsidian are danceable, Wiesenfeld veers away from being a DJ and towards being a quintessential studio electronic composer, ultimately making an album as dark and broken as its coal-miner black cover. Wiesenfeld has always had an almost-falsetto, quivering voice (especially on his stunning minimal piano cover of LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends).
Baths played coy on Cerulean. The 2010 debut from Will Wiesenfeld was damp with feeling, but hid many of its lyrics inside messy beats and tangled glitches. On his sophomore release, Wiesenfeld tosses the shields and opens up. Like the name states, Obsidian is darker than Cerulean, but it’s also more cathartic.
When Baths’ debut album came out, I was telling everyone who’d listen that it was hands down the best album of 2010. Cerulean was somewhere between a cutesy, bubbly hip-hop beat tape and an inventive piece of Four Tet-esque lush electronica, made with (and vicariously inspiring) a child-like, wide-eyed wonder at the beauty of the world, achieving that feeling with every single track. It still feels like a warm and beautiful embrace.
In Seneca’s version of her story, Oedipus’s Phaedra—wife to archetypal anti-hero dude, Theseus, and stepmother to his pretty-boy bastard, Hippolytus—has a problem. She’s in love with the kid, in spite of his solid track record of flagrant misogyny, and, you know, her own marriage to his dad. I won’t ruin the play if you haven’t rushed out to your local sunken gardens to watch a performance, but I’ll say one thing about Phaedra: she knows her lust and infatuation have gotten the best of her, that they’re overpowering her capacity for reason, and that no good can possibly come of wanting to…over-familiarize herself with her own stepson.
In 2010, Will Wiesenfeld marked the end of one project and began another, releasing The Fabric under his Post-Foetus moniker and then inaugurating Baths with the Cerulean LP. While The Fabric is a gentle, electronic-tinged indie pop record, Cerulean bristles with off-kilter hip-hop beats and glistening sonics. On Obsidian, Wiesenfeld has forged a third way that is somewhere between his previous efforts.
byADRIENNE THOMAS Confounding our ears with crackling beats and falsetto harmonies, Baths’ Obsidian is a persistent fusion of melody and dissonance – off-beat sequences woven through delicate layers of beat. The sum of these contradictory parts is nothing less than a extraordinary and complex album. Whether traversing through Oohs and Aahs or discussing depressing sentiments and death, Baths carries his carefully facilitated combinations far beyond their individual components.
It's been a testing time for Baths, aka 24-year-old Californian Will Wiesenfeld. Fresh from touring his 2010 debut LP, Cerulean, he was struck down by a dire bout of E. coli, leaving him wholly debilitated; bedridden for months on end. The result of this extended convalescence is Obsidian, an altogether more stark, introspective affair than its elder sibling, shaped partly by its creator's depressed disposition and partly by a wilful determination on Wiesenfeld's part to explore darker, more sinister sounds and themes on the follow-up to an album that found its nearest touchstones under the loose 'chillwave' umbrella of Toro Y Moi and Washed Out.
When asked what might follow 2010’s beauteous Cerulean, Will Wiesenfeld stated on multiple occasions that his next album, under the title of his music project Baths, would be “hopefully much darker and almost antithetical to how positive Cerulean was”. Contrary to what the ominous vignetted cover art of Obsidian might suggest, Wiesenfeld’s sophomore album is not so much a dark album as it is a rigorously raw collection of songs about topics not commonly discussed at the dinner table. Obsidian gingerly picks the scab open on such topics as mortality, suicide and the callous ache for a self-indulgent fuck.
‘Obsidian’, Will Wiesenfeld’s second album of experimental pop as Baths, is a distinctly bleak affair. It was borne of a degree of personal trauma as he recovered from illness following a long tour in support of well-regarded debut ‘Cerulean’; the songs here are curious pieces, sounding both joyous and desperately sad.The trauma of illness and the recovery period allowed Wiesenfeld more scope and time to progress Baths’ sound beyond the shiny, upbeat electronic pop of his debut and take it to an altogether stranger and more warped place. It’s more layered and defined.
When Baths debut Cerulean emerged in 2010, Will Wiesenfeld was bracketed with L.A beat scene artists like Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing, but he always had a spark of something different about him. His sound mixed deep saturated beats with wistful samples and falsetto vocals that imbued a sadness to the record, one which seemed more human and much less exhausting to listen to than those peers. This second album only serves to highlight the superficiality of those previous associations, as Obsidian is a casually accessible but black-hearted collection which he has called his “weird version of a pop record”.