The innovative LA beat maker Baths is 21-year-old Will Wiesenfeld, from Chatsworth, CA—a suburb of Los Angeles, just north of West Hollywood. However, there is nothing suburban about Wiesenfeld’s music.
His debut album, titled Cerulean, which came out just a few weeks ago (June 22) from Anticon, is artful, dense, and soulful. I say dense because the songs are layered and complex, sometimes to the point where they sound downright schizophrenic. Baths uses some bizarre samples, from pen clicks to running water, much like the New York City avant-folk duo The Books. Although Wiesenfeld describes himself on his Facebook page as a “definitive overthinker,” his music isn’t over-thought or inaccessible. On the contrary, it’s soothing and meditative.
There’s something a little “new agey” in Baths’ orchestration (lyrics like, “It takes a lot of courage to go out there and radiate your essence” are a little heavy-handed), but his tracks remain grounded in driving beats, so that the listener doesn’t drift off on clouds of abstract sounds. Baths’ vocals are soulful and even funky at times—tracks like “Lovely Bloodflow” feature Wiesenfeld (a young white suburban male, remember) sounding almost like Prince.
According to his artist bio on Anticon’s website, Wiesenfeld learned piano at the age of four, and was classically-trained as a musician until his early teenage years, when he threw out his Barenaked Ladies CDs and bought the entire Björk discography. Thus began the talented artist’s awareness of the avant-garde and the abstract: Wiesenfeld bought a MIDI keyboard and a Digital Performer, and was changed forever.
Next, Baths taught himself the viola, the contrabass, and the guitar, and started composing layered landscapes of sound, and mixing in vocals over them. Since that time, he has recorded numerous albums and performed under artist aliases Geotic and Post Foetus, the latter of which featured a full band during live performances. That band included Luke Silas from the 8-bit rock quartet Anamanaguchi. Playing with a band is rare for Baths, who recorded Cerulean in his bedroom on his own. Baths now performs mostly alone, too. In interviews, he says he is thinking of gathering a band together, but recognizes how much work it takes to re-write each element of his complex songs for each instrumentalist.
Still, the guy puts on a pretty kickass show. Listen to BTR all week for tracks of Baths’ new album, and check him out on tour!
July 28 – Frank’s Place – Fresno, CA
July 29 – Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA
July 30 – The Mill Gallery – Santa Cruz, CA
July 31 – Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
– Hunter Stuart