BATHS – CERULEAN (ANTICON, 2010)

…Baths, like his real world namesake, is easy to slip into, but ridiculously hard to get out of. I have overplayed this record, overplayed it to death, but I still don’t want to give it up. I have been trying to figure why this is. Personally, Baths simultaneously hits all of my auditory pleasure spots: chopped up electro-acoustic arrangements, massive beats, left-field vocal samples, and an impossibly high falsetto voice. It is as if Gold PandaPassion Pit, and Daedelus are all performing in some sort of single-monikered supergroup. I can understand if this doesn’t generate the same level of unabashed gushing, but there is something undefined about Cerulean that erases any sort of subjectivity on the part of the listener. The unrestrained joy, intricately crafted hooks, and playful experimentation assure similar returns across the board. Listen to this record, you will feel happy, wistful, nostalgic, confident. Your head will bob. You really won’t have a choice in the matter.


Cerulean is one of those records that makes you feel like you have wasted your life when you find out that Wiesenfeld is only 21. The record, while representing a legion of different voices, is a solid and mature vision sutured by a few elements that Wiesenfeld has mastered. First and foremost, Baths is a beat maker. He reigns in the propensity to let auxiliary instrumentation and formless segues wreak havoc on his airtight beats by never straying too far out of a lock-step, definable beat pattern as a sturdy backbone. Baths’ use of sampled acoustic guitars, organic, household sounds, and piano lines often fall a half-step behind the propulsive beat, deepening the texture, but they always support and lend to the musical superstructure.

Coming in half-way through the album, “Hall” starts out as a delightfully twisted, lo-fi freak-folk strummer before being edited percussively into the rhythm and time signature of the beat. If we can compare Baths to recent Chillwave artists such as Toro y Moi and Washed Out we can do so favorably in terms of Wiesenfeld’s use of non-percussive rhythmic elements to augment his beats with which he creates a disorienting underwater headphone trip. Pretty amazing stuff.

The surprisingly stronger second half of the album utilizes Wiesenfeld’s multi-tracked falsetto in the fantastic pop songs “Plea” and “You’re My Excuse to Travel” while brooding over the somber, hiccupping “Rain Smell”. The human voice is never absent, either as another instrument or the songs main vehicle. Wiesenfeld’s’ voice packs an emotional weight, whether pushed to the brink of human hearing with an inhuman falsetto, mumbled into a microphone much too close to his mouth, or buried under a landslide of filters and tracked infinitely, it never goes unnoticed…

Ryan H.

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