Baths
Obsidian


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jacob Royal STAFF
April 29th, 2013 | 196 replies


Release Date: 05/28/2013 | Tracklist

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. Right when we thought we knew Baths, right when we have him pigeonholed in the category of 'eccentric optimist,' he backs into a corner and creates the most disturbing, alienating and telling album of his career.

Obsidian is the pissed-off older brother nobody knew Cerulean had, the budding antithesis of its predecessor’s contentment. It's dark in the darkest of ways, too-- as if its menacing album cover didn’t suggest this in the first place. But to be fair, there was plenty reason to believe Obsidian was going to be an equally enthused affair. “Miasma Sky,’ the album’s first single, presented itself in an excited flurry. But at the end of the day, the track exists as exception over rule, existing as the single beam of light in an otherwise pitch-black room.

There’s a leisurely swagger about Obsidian, leading to a massive change in feel for Baths. There are no bells and whistles this time around, just barren landscapes and lyrics, lyrics, lyrics. Sometimes Wiesenfeld tells stories of love; other times, he paints pictures of vicious death. The music is more intimate this time around, and makes for an infinitely more telling description of who Baths is. His thoughts are messy, and his songwriting follows suit-- this isn’t too much of a problem for those accustomed to it, though. Cerulean was schizophrenic, but in terms of the music itself-- here, the most unpredictable element is how Wiesenfeld carries himself vocally, in the midst of all the different layers of sound.

This would be a good time to touch on Baths’ singing, and how it’s easily the most polarizing element here. “Lovely Bloodflow” was such an anthem because of its quirky vocals, in stark contrast to the otherwise instrumentally based Cerulean. On the other hand, all the tracks here push Wiesenfeld’s voice to the forefront. And his voice is still shaky, flawed and revealing. It makes sense, though, to let his damaged timbre direct the album, because shit-- this album’s damaged beyond repair. It's the sound of a musician coming to terms with his demons and making twisted art out of them. No wonder Will Wiesenfeld’s voice is perfect for the job at hand.

This isn't to say the album’s balance between vocals and music is without its flaws. Many of the instrumental parts of the music at hand simply don’t deliver, existing too passively for any sort of lasting experience. Some tracks take their time, and others are too drowsy to even be aware that time exists. The first example that comes to mind is “Ironworks,” a song that works on every front except for tempo. The track feels constructed to be livelier, not the slow-as-molasses ballad Wiesenfeld decided it to be.

But as unexpected as they are, the simplest moments here are the most charming. It’s when Wiesenfeld takes a pleasant melody and only tampers with it some, giving breathing room for the vocals. “No Eyes” exists as successful interplay between all ingredients at hand, with a distinct synth melody stuttering behind Wiesenfeld’s cries of “I have no eyes, I have no heart, I have no soul.” The album’s brutal, because its brutality is easy to miss.

The most pivotal moment on Obsidian is “Earth Death.” The album’s clocks stop turning, and all goes black. “My men cannot get out of being pulled into the earth,” Wiesenfeld sings with as much apathy as trepidation. The song’s backbone trudges along steadily, as it injects more and more tension with every punch. The entire album has been flirting with this type of anxiety, but never has it been this outright-- a nervous breakdown redressed into a song format. And this is what Obsidian is all about, that Will Wiesenfeld still doesn’t know exactly who he is, but that he’s afraid there isn’t a point to the questions anymore. Who is Baths? Well, what does it matter?



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Miasma Sky" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRc4yi_iOSM

The album's a mess, and I can dig that.

Digging: Thou - Heathen

FourthReich
April 28th 2013


18135 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice reading now!

Digging: Hail Mary Mallon - Bestiary

FourthReich
April 28th 2013


18135 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review you justified your rating quite well, especially when you stated, " But it makes sense to have his damaged timbre direct the album, because ***, this album’s damaged beyond repair."Really dig that sentence although i feel it hurts the album overall.


Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

In terms of the music, maybe, but the vocals here are a pretty big mess in that Wiesenfeld doesn't really have the charisma to front an album like this.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

And thanks Reich, glad you enjoyed the read. I spent quite a bit of time on this, so it's nice to finally have others read it.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It isn't that I know him, it's that singers are interpreted in different ways silly Potsy!!

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I dunno, man, his performance here feels much more personal, not to mention the quirks that happen from time to time. There's one song where his falsetto goes up crazy-high, in Lovely Bloodflow fashion, but what he's singing about is actually relatable. And that feels bolder to me, but his quivering voice doesn't always live up to that boldness.

EaglesBecomeVultures
April 28th 2013


5273 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

pretty sure i'm the only one that enjoys him using his voice more

would 4.3 the shit out of this it hasn't started growing off yet

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Naw Eagles, you aren't alone!

EaglesBecomeVultures
April 28th 2013


5273 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i mean the things that make cerulean great and the things that make this great are completely different, and it's not what i expected or necessarily wanted from him but these melodies are fuckin' cash

FourthReich
April 28th 2013


18135 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you sold out hard though with that 3.8 omaha haha. i'd gladly take your old 3.3

JumpTheF**kUp
April 28th 2013


2716 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i fucking love phaedra

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Haha dude, this album grew on me insanely. If I truly sold out, I'd be sticking with my initial conclusion. =]

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Potsy by a mess I mean his singing voice isn't that talented/impressive, and his voice doesn't sound very charismatic because of it. Hope u r satisfied now

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Sry mate =[ do not mean to disappoint

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 29th 2013


24090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

just listening to this now and I gotta say, I'm enjoying the vocals a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. This is really different from Cerulean so far, but I think I'm ok with that...

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Gld to hear it, man! The album's a grower, so keep that in mind.

WashboardSuds
April 29th 2013


5043 Comments


still need to hear...............both this and cerulean, which I listened to once ages ago

Digging: Zodiac (VASE) - Zodiac

WashboardSuds
April 29th 2013


5043 Comments


solid review, btw

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2013


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks bud, appreciate it. You'd dig both of them, I think!



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