Monday, 19 July 2010

Baths - ‘Cerulean’ (Anticon)

California has churned out another talent who manages to warp sounds and melody in such a manner that whole summers can be soundtracked by the collection of laid-back tones hidden within. Baths essentially constructs fantastic pop music with a true, albeit very chilled out, heart. Therefore, it is absolutely normal for ‘Cerulean’ to be a whole mass of emotional dizziness that spirals somewhere between eccentric and beautiful, never quite deciding to land fully on either description.

The soft and choral layer of voices that ease you into the album on opening track ‘Apologetic Shoulder Blades’ set the tone for the surprisingly relaxing mixture of pounding percussion, vocal harmonics and warbling glitches that form ‘Cerulean’. Such a mixture can so easily be a recipe for disaster, confusion and ear damage in many, many situations, except for the fact that the man behind Baths may have some unknown superpower that allows him to mesh such a collection of ideals together into something wonderful.

Initially, the sappy spirit that pervades a big chunk of each track can be perceived and translated as somewhat saccharine and perhaps a teeny bit overwrought, especially with one track truly titled ‘♥’. However, as ‘♥’ dips into a piano ditty spliced alongside repetitive percussive slams, it begins to bloom and echo a captivatingly classical vibe. Once in a while, things get a bit plinky plonky and cyclic but something interesting and sudden pulls everything up and away again, whether it’s a quick sample blast or a perfectly timed vocal warp. If ever he wishes to turn away from the original artistry, there is a perfect place out there for some Baths production and remixing, thanks to such a deft and precise hand over the minute details that form each tune.

The expected samples of children and sound effects sprinkle themselves about the record. ‘You’re My Excuse To Travel’ screeches along like Passion Pit with a piano (whether that is a good thing or not depends on your enjoyment of Passion Pit) and the delicacy that lies inherently inside the lyrics and rain effect on ‘Rain Smell’ glides off into the midst of some showery sunset. Each track reflects the style of a host of different artists, from Thom Yorke to Sigur Ros, and it is this carefully crafted and organized heap of influence and regeneration that sweeps you off of your feet after a complete listen to the record. Rhythm and hum drive the album somewhere far off into the distance, tracing the outline of a fuzzy memory in the music bank of your mind, linking itself to a host of other records stored deep within. It’s this ability to identify and translate influences into something that sounds new and invigorating that could send Baths somewhere spectacular with both time and experience.

Whilst the man behind the music, Will Wiesenfeld, has revealed there is no real meaning in the moniker, I will happily and honestly state that ‘Cerulean’ is brilliant for a long, warm soak in the tub. Well, as long as you scrub and unwind whilst contemplating the greater complexities and beautiful truths at the heart of the human heart, that is.

Words: Adam Parker

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