Category: Baths

Baths comes clean

The singer, who performs as Baths, reassesses his work as a producer and a performer of electronica. 

WILL_BATHS_LAT_6_

It’s 3 o’clock on a bright February afternoon inside a downtown Los Angeles grocery store, and Will Wiesenfeld is on a quest. ”I’m addicted to this insane Japanese gum,” said the 21-year-old Chatsworth-based producer and singer as he searched the aisles of jelly-flecked soft drinks and exotic candies in a Little Tokyo market.

For the last year he’s released his woozy, love-struck electronica under the name Baths. But at that moment, he was in pursuit of a more immediate pleasure. “You have to try this. I’ve never tasted anything like it,” he said.

Related: Album review: Baths' 'Cerulean'

Alas, the gum never turned up. But Wiesenfeld’s unlikely rise to the upper echelon of L.A.’s thrilling experimental “beat music” scene, a loose collection of artists centered on the Low End Theory club night, has been all about such searches for rare and unexpected joys.

His sold-out headlining set at the Troubadour on Saturday comes after a year of heavy touring on his debut album, “Cerulean,” and a thorough reassessment of what he and his fast-moving music are capable of. Baths is in many ways the opposite of L.A.’s often brilliant but frequently scatterbrained beat scene. But he also might be one of its best — and most unexpected — hopes for a breakout pop star.

Among peers who make throttling, bass-heavy dubstep, “Cerulean” was shimmering, falsetto-strewn makeout music. In a scene full of straight male fans looking for the most intense drum machine fix they can find, Wiesenfeld is an out gay man with glasses and heavy sideburns whose idea of dance-floor lasciviousness on “Cerulean” is to extol a lover’s “Apologetic Shoulderblades” or “Lovely Bloodflow.”

“Most pop music is all about [sex] today, and in my music I’ve always had a reverence for the human body,” Wiesenfeld said. “I always rooted it in Bjork’s ‘Cocoon.’ That’s a very sexy song, but it’s also very tailored.”

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Album review: Baths' 'Cerulean'

BATHS_C_175 The great bonus of the laptop age, from a composer’s perspective, is that one doesn’t have to deal with other humans in order to craft rich, dynamic music. Every melody and rhythm can be tweaked without having to worry about a guitarist with a drinking problem or a drummer with body odor. The downside is that solitude often begets self-indulgence. Will Wiesenfeld, who records as Baths, is the rare young electronic music composer with a sharp internal editor and an ear for melody, even if he needs to scale back his falsetto vocals a notch.

On his debut full length, the 21-year-old Valley boy has crafted a dozen bedroom electronic tracks rich with hummable tunes and ethereal sounds. You can hear echoes of Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin’s ambient work in “Rafting Starlit Everglades.” On “Indoorsy,” Wiesenfeld honors a “beautiful, breezy day” by pulling his curtains closed and, like any self-respecting computer geek, rejoicing in the darkness as his vocals grow increasingly foggy and distant.

Songs on “Cerulean” are, for the most part, pleasantly introspective, his way with drunken beats is inspired, and his songs are expertly arranged. The result is a sunny record perfect for driving with the windows down or moping in the solitude.

—Randall Roberts

Baths

"Cerulean"

(Anticon Records)

Three stars (Out of four)


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Live review: Fol Chen and Baths at the Echo

If Prince had decided to take up esoteric mathematics instead of sex-god funk, that career might be  something Fol Chen could get behind. The Highland Park band's screwball pastiche pop sounds like an algebra problem but feels like a come-on. At Tuesday night's release party for Fol Chen's second album, "Part II: The New December" (which, admittedly, should have taken by Coheed and Cambria), the band pulled the neat trick of making its two impulses -- danceable pop immediacy and its need to run every song through a paper shredder -- feel unexpectedly simpatico.

For an act that goes by aliases, riffs on Nabokov's penchant for misdirection and refuses to show its members' faces in photos, Fol Chen really is a singles band. Members had a humdinger in the jaunty, deadpan "Cable TV" from their debut, "Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made." They have another one, "In Ruins," from this record that should be enough to carry them nationally. It starts with a junk-shop Arabesque synth riff, dragging fuzz bass and one of the creepiest pickup lines in recent rock: "You look good by siren light." But the end result has a sort of jerky, bloodless R&B simmer that's unexpectedly entrancing. 

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Baths unveils exclusive Daedelus remix, announces album release show and new Low End Theory podcast

Baths_1It's only fitting that Will Wiesenfeld, the producer/songwriter known as Baths, would invite Daedelus to share the bill at his album release party and enlist him for the first remix off of Baths' excellent "Cerulean." After all, it was Alfred Darlington who recruited him to play the Destroy L.A. party last year, the night that galvanized the 21-year-old's interest in beat music and directly led to the record's creation. 

So, on July 3, the Troubadour will host Wiesenfeld & Darlington, a tandem who may sound like an downtown law firm but who make some of the most emotionally complex electronic music around. In honor of the event, Daedelus produced "♥ (Daedelus' Snolaxed Remix"), which confirms that he knows how to wring the maximum resonance from a track and correctly use an apostrophe. Ratcheting the tempo down to a pace that vaguely resembles Houston screw music, the track becomes a twisted and disorienting waltz.

Because of the massive response engendered during Baths' May residency at the Low End Theory, the club asked the Anticon-signed artist to play a follow-up show at Wednesday night's 12th Beat Invitational, alongside heavy-hitters such as Nosaj Thing, Daedelus, and Jneiro Janel. In other related news -- and because you presumably like good free music -- the Wednesday night weekly just dropped its 15th podcast, featuring sets from Gaslamp Killer and Lorn. If you enjoy noirish, brain-bludgeoning beats and Serge Gainsbourg, you will not be disappointed.

-- Jeff Weiss

Download:

MP3: Baths - "♥ (Daedelus' Snolaxed Remix") (Left-Click)

MP3: Low End Theory Podcast XV - Gaslamp Killer & Lorn

Photo: Baths. Credit: Anticon

Baths marks final night of Low End Theory residency, lists his current pop culture favorites

Baths_6 Chatsworth is Manson Country, the porn capital of the United States, a sleepy suburb on the fringe of Los Angeles, where people head when they want to escape but stay close enough. The land is cheap(er), horses trot across what used to be sprawling Spanish land grants, and later, the baked-brown expanse where Gene Autry and Roy Rogers played cowboy.

The serrated Santa Susana Mountains operate as a shield at the north, which creates an uneasy vacuum of ceaseless and severe winds. It’s always hotter or colder than the rest of the city, but it’s never the same, and it’s where 21-year old Will Wiesenfeld grew up.

Maybe its appropriate that a bedroom community would birth one of the city’s brightest new electronic music talents, who records his beat music under the name Baths, an appropriate moniker considered the scalding climes where he crafted his debut album, “Cerulean.” The biography exists in lieu of a real narrative (sometimes, you’re just gifted): boy asks parents to enroll him in music lessons, by 13, he’s recording his own music with a Midi keyboard. Boy hears Björk, who turns his synapses to shrapnel, causing him to teach himself the viola, the guitar and the contrabass.

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