Knowing where to begin is the utmost challenge to creating to comment on something as stunning as the Baths’ debut release Cerulean. Among a few of my dream labels, Anticon is in the top 3, so when I read of a new artist on Anticon, I can usually trust that it will be both quality, odd-but-catchy and extremely intelligently arranged music and/or lyrics. Anticon never seems to disappoint a listener like me and usually it is not to my surprise that I will become a fan of any of their artists.
When I put Baths’ on, I was completely taken-a-back. The music is so incredibly moving and it makes the mind fixate on a feeling of happy bewilderment. I immediately fell in love with the record and listened to it on rotation after rotation. Lucky me to get to hear something so outstanding! So this is why I feel it is my duty to confess my love for this music. With it being Valentine’s Day and all!
It begins with a choir of beat-maker Will Wiesenfeld, the 21-year-old mastermind behind Baths. With trinkets and heavy beats, the song “Apologetic Shoulder Blades” starts off this debut album triumphantly. With mousy voice breaks in and out, this instrumental piece of art fades off into the distance. Bringing our ears to “Lovely Bloodflow” starting off with a r&b hint-y vocal line and a suave hip-hop beat. Featuring nail clips, bass harmonics, the brush on a snare and hand claps, a saucy Will enters with a rhythmic chorus-line ‘Rustle these leaves, ruffle these feathers.’ Each instrument gets a proper introduction, like the short piano interlude. When you listen to this track you can’t not relentlessly bop your head and feel like your problems just float away.
With a quick start into “Maximalist” you immediately feel the momentum of this album. This cheerful and quirky beat which brings me to call a more hip hoppy Four Tet or Dosh that gets interrupted with snip-its of, what seems to be like, talk show personalities throwing in uplifting quotes like, ‘It take’s a lot of courage to go out there and radiate your essence.’
Ending with a beautiful tremolo-like guitar line, “Heart” swirls with a classical piano sample that turns to the beat and they work together. This emotional tune is heartfelt - hence the name. He sings, ‘I won’t go back, but I love this too much.’ You can hear the pain behind his vocal delivery but with the beat and well developed textural scope gives it a bit of optimism in some strange unexplainable way. It fades on a classic hip hop beat and immediately, a cheery guitar sample comes in with a clip of a speaking child explaining something.
This song’s called “Animals” and it really has some Four Tet type beats (from his album Rounds) that then go to a trip hop sound and right back to the beginning form. It remains to be very urban hip hop in feel and is accompanied by children chanting and making animal sounds. It’s fun, innocent and completely instrumental, again.
“Rafting Starlit Everglades” sounds like clouds splitting (if that had a sound) and a stream of light slowly coming through. It’s a slow grower that is very visual. Or at least it is to me. “Hall” -I absolutely adore this song. It is so incredibly catchy and beautiful. It begins with the sound of a radio tuner going over the song and begins to settle in with chaotic and cohesive clusters of electronics. Though the beat remains flat so the song has a chance to completely settle after the bass introduces the most catchy vocal line I have ever heard in my whole life! Sorry that this is more of a personal reaction to the music but there is absolutely no other way for me to compose an honest comment on what you are about to witness on Feb 19th at El Mocambo.
“You’re My Excuse to Travel” begins in a piano line which is very upfront and it settles into a beat which switches in its rhythmic patterns. In a higher vocal range, he sings in a sincere and confessional manner. ‘If you said you wanted me to be there, I would be there in a minute.’ What is so great about the vocal texture is its imperfectness and highly emotive demeanor.
“Rain Smell” is linked nicely by the piano, the rain drops, the very mellow beat and singing. This track is very reminiscent of Fog aka. Andrew Broder and his collaboration with Why?. It has a beautiful simplicity and is something that can really be appreciated, especially after hearing such a collection of sounds on the previous tracks.
“Indoorsy” is a fun and upbeat piece that harks to ones childhood, thinking of what to do on a Saturday afternoon. It has this sense of freedom and curiosity. It should be the theme to any 8 year olds springtime afternoon. The vocals are distorted and he makes use of frequent and well placed climaxes in this tune. It’s clear that the listening experience is coming to a close. The songs seem to have this winding down type of nostalgia to them.
“Plea” has a chanting sentimental melody. Will has done an amazing job of lining up the songs for this release. You really go on a journey with him and it is a very special thing to be able to accomplish with any series of songs.
Even though I just remarked on ending a journey, the next song is called “Departure” and it is another favorite. It completes the album in a gorgeous way. The lyrics really resonate through the piece as he sings/ speaks -Why? style. ‘Smile for me if you can, I want to have that in my head.’ -Such a lovely composition. It really hits home for a listener like me. I can honestly say it brought tears to my eyes while listening to it for the first time. The distant rumble of the beat, the appropriateness of the chords, the smooth tone of his voice make it really complete the album perfectly. I would honestly be OK if this song never ended.
Will Wiesenfelt is 21 years old and had a quick rise out of the San Fernando Valley suburbs into the hands of Anticon records. At 4 years old, Will had begun his musical path with piano lessons and at the age of 13 years old, he had already begun recording some of his workings. He drew from Euro-beat influences like Bjork and shortly after; incorporated guitar, string bass and viola to his writings.
In January he released The Fabric under his former name Poet-Foetus and was on the label Mu-Nest. Will had the opportunity to open for Anticon veteran Daedelus at a Los Angeles show date and Will’s project Baths came to life. Cerulean is Baths’ debut album and it’s been taken on the road in North America. Toronto will have a chance to experience this epic performance at El Mocambo on Feb 19th where Braids will be opening and Baths will be headlining.