Baths: Ocean Death- Enter the watery world of Ocean Death, the latest release by one of LA’s finest electronic artists, Baths. Though it’d been a while since I’ve listened to Baths, I remembered the feeling I got from him while I listening to albums like Geotic; a feeling of being transported to a completely new world in each tune, and I’m happy to say that this short, 5-track collection is no exception to this phenomenon.
It begins with the titular track, a song which with its cinematic qualities gives me a clear image of one man’s fantastic journey into the sea. Our character is led by the denizens of the shoreline, newborn sea turtles and the ghost crabs which prey on them, their clicking sounds at first random become rhythmically succinct with the metronomic sub-kick and low register side-chain vocals. The human descends into the tide, walking with weighted feet below the waves, not considering the fact that he his no longer breathing oxygen. The landscape slopes downward to an outcrop which overlooks the black abyss. An eerie vocal melody begins fade in, the kindred song of mermaids beckoning him into their kingdom with the enticing light of the bioluminescent algae which coats their fish-like bodies. At 2:42 we arrive abruptly to the scene of his beached corpse being picked at by birds and gently washed away by the sounds of the ocean. By the croak of an ultimate breath we return to our dead-fellow’s tour of a mythical kingdom, where the music is pumping and the activity is slow-motion. The delayed voice of a singular entity fills the scene with sepulchral tones, messages of a burial, and perhaps the last will of our character who in his latent afterlife realized his connection to the planet: “I am the ocean.”
Song’s like this give the listener a great opportunity to weave stories and allow mental images to manifest, whereas tracks like ‘Fade White’ and ‘Orator’ are straightforward (here I use that term very lightly) songs that one can enjoy on a commute, lyrically driven as well as percussively engaging with an almost poppy, post-rock vibe to them. One of Will Wiesenfeld’s strongest qualities is his ability to generate atmospheric textures, not just by using audio samples but by layering each of his tracks in such a way that one can pick out each sound and at the same time be lost in the downpour. An example of this quality would be his use of bowed strings and hammered dulcimer towards the end of ‘Yawn’, as well as those glitchy, wacky, whatever-the-hell-those-are sounds that seem to move in circles around your head. It’s a beautiful track, uplifting and an excellent way to wrap up this short collection.
From the wide range of moods you’ll find moments that are upbeat and driving, melancholy and sluggish, dark and alien. There’s a lot that you’ll hear in this album, both instrumentally and compositionally, that you won’t find anywhere else which is why you just have to experience it for yourself. Ocean Death is what makes Baths one of those artists who you can trust to evolve in the right direction… 10/10