Review: Baths – Obsidian

baths obsidian
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by ADRIENNE 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. Will Wiesenfeld’s growth since 2010’s Cerulean is a delightful non-surprise, if his tireless remixing and work with side/solo-project Geotic speak anything for his insatiable creativity.

In its gloomy candor, opening track “Worsening” channels Elliott Smith in lyrical outlook and Shlohmo and Teebs in curtained mesmerization. “Where is God when you hate him most / When the mouths in the earth come to bite at my robes” passionately belts over a deep electronic landscape before the song culminates with a skipping record cut-out effect. As an opener it entices us with an unidentifiable oddness that carries through each and every track that follows.

“Miasma Sky” is a deserving album single composed of beauty and optimism, produced with a light touch to facilitate sky traveling minds, all the while grounding itself in hopeful, deep-toned bass. Clean glitch beats and a soft techno tempo echo the chaotic melodies frequented by the tenured Dan Deacon, Flying Lotus and Four Tet.

“Ironworks” is a luscious track and a continued reminder of Baths’ poetic lyrical tendencies. His words flow like the bars in his music transitions – with unique and rolling congruency. Wiesenfeld melancholically sings, “I am the sweet smile in Victorian doorways / In tempestuous foreplays / I am the sweet smile in the madness of the mind.”

Obsidian is, at its core, a dark and solemn collection of music. Even in its highest pitched verse there exists sadness in the mood of his lyrics and reverting tones. Midway through Obsidian we come across two immaterial additions that unfortunately disappoint an album otherwise mastering respectable depth. “Ossuary” is a relatively heavy track, circling vague themes of frailty and death. “Incompatible” shallowly tells the story of a failed couple growing into distance and resentment. Neither of these tracks stand out with the odd beauty that has so far come to define Baths’ music.

It’s this same odd beauty that has had Baths’ critics struggling to cement terms that extend past “weird” or “freak” pop. In this respect, Wiesenfeld has paid no mind to them. As an entity, Obsidian is neither more nor less accessible than Cerulean. Ultimately, your mood as a listener – and perhaps the weather – will dictate how often you’ll return to Obsidian‘s bleak and beautiful world. [B+]

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