Music Review: Baths – Romaplasm

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[Anticon; 2017]

Rating: 3.5/5

It’s poptimism for intelligent dance cynics. After the moribund dejection of 2013’s Obsidian, Baths’s Will Wiesenfeld turns a new leaf in the form of fidgeting virility here on Romaplasm. A record wherein the glitching dynamo transmutes his disillusionment following a ruinous bout with E. coli into eccentric exultations and plaints, Romaplasm sees Wiesenfeld embracing computer-generated ebullience while maintaining an understandably hesitant air about him.

Romaplasm teems with references to the singer’s diffidence, some more overt than others (“Often meek to the nth degree”), but Wiesenfeld’s reticence never precludes him from attaining happiness. The album’s opener “Yeoman” tracks its narrator’s mounting joy at the prospect of walking aimlessly aboard a spacecraft with its captain in an unbridled tryst akin to Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” Even when voicing a jeremiad on “Human Bog,” in which Will airs his frustrations about compromising himself for the sake of romance (“I’m queer in a way that works for you,” “I’m queer in a way that’s failed me”), Wiesenfeld counterbalances this perturbation with the vim of follow-up track “Adam Copies:” “Become as fire, eat the woods, eat the dark and show where I stood.” For Will, lamentation often gives way to intrepidness on Romaplasm.

Highly personal, but sensationalistic by turns, Wiesenfeld’s lyrics serve as both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. With lines like “I let the fulcrum buckle under me/ Deny my inhibitions/ And find modernity” from “Superstructure,” there’s a clear sense of indignation, but the sentiment never devolves into a maudlin whine by virtue of the double-tracked austerity in his vocals. However, on the couplet from “Coitus,” “Like a dream too wide for the brain/ I can but hold to your shoulders like the edge of a cliff,” Will drifts into sentimentality without his typically spasmodic musicianship to ground and temper his indulgency. Romaplasm relies, above all else, on the delicate enigma of an artist channeling emotions through the artificial landscape of electronic music.

The city of Rome, though often contested among etymologists, is typically agreed to have origins in the word Rumon, meaning “flowing water,” while plasma, in the field of biology, refers to the malleable liquid in which blood cells are suspended. As the portmanteau Romaplasm, the two words intimate a sense of looseness, of that which can be molded. Wiesenfeld, when recalling his early music education, expressed a distaste for the perceived rigidity of the music he was learning, yet now finds creating music digitally to be a liberating practice . In Romaplasm is a feeling of fluidity, whether on “Broadback,” whose freewheeling arrangement sees various sounds and textures entering and leaving the song, never beholden to remain or linger, or on “Abscond” whereby ethereal background vocals wantonly occupy the song, only to vacate at a moment’s notice.

Will Wiesenfeld lacks the proper sensibilities to become a bona fide pop star as Baths or either of his other sobriquets. His oft-experimental approach to electronica and his indie label affiliation place him as more of an underground hero, albeit one who’s enjoyed a prodigious amount of praise and coverage. With a sotto voce that at times leans too hard on the adenoids, Will knows better than to preen his voice for Top 40 radio. His home is with the glitch crowd. But pop star or no, Wiesenfeld, as Baths, taps into those universal feelings that makes pop music so accessible and so, well, popular.

Baths has a new album coming out ANY HOUR NOW, announces slate of spring 2018 tour dates

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With his third album as Baths due to come out in just a handful of…

*refers to “Farmer’s Almanac,” checks sun dial, notes what direction the crows are flying*

hours from now, Will Wiesenfeld has announced a series of tour dates throughout the United States and Canada. Going down this coming spring, the tour will take Baths all the way from Eugene to San Francisco, which sounds like a pretty boring tour on paper, seeing as those places are only about a 90 minute flight apart. Thankfully though, Wiesenfeld will also be playing Washington D.C., Atlanta, and a whole other bunch of out-of-the-way stops along the way, as Baths follows the Oregon Trail towards Northern California.

These dates will constitute the L.A. glitch pop auteur’s first proper tour of North America in over three years and will be in support of Romaplasm, his first new Baths new album in four years. Taking cues from the Romanticism movement by emphasizing emotion and individualism, Romaplasm looks to tackle the “gnawing chaos of life with a focus on beauty and the sublime.” To further quote the press release, “It’s about centering the things that are important to you, and doing so in the most honest way possible, even if that means fucking things up a bit along the way.”

Get an idea of what that all means by watching the amusing music video for Romaplasm cut “Out,” below. While down there, make sure to also check out all of the upcoming spring 2018 Baths tour dates, or else the whole first part of this post will have been a waste to write. Here’s hoping no one on tour catches dysentery, gets bitten by a rattle snake, or falls in the water while attempting to caulk the wagon and float across the river.

Romaplasm is out November 17 (a.k.a. “tomorrow”) via Anticon and can be purchased here right now (a.k.a. “today”).

Romaplasm tracklisting:

01. Yeoman
02. Extrasolar
03. Abscond
04. Human Bog
05. Adam Copies
06. Lev
07. I Form
08. Out
09. Superstructure
10. Wilt
11. Coitus
12. Broadback

Baths on the Oregon Trail:

03.28.18 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
03.29.18 – Portland, OR – Holocene
03.30.18 – Vancouver, BC – Fortune Sound Club
03.31.18 – Seattle, WA – Neumos
04.03.18 – Boise, ID – The Reef
04.04.18 – Salt Lake City – UT Metro Bar
04.05.18 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
04.06.18 – Kansas City, MO – The Record Bar
04.07.18 – Minneapolis, MN Fine – Line Music Café
04.10.18 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
04.11.18 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
04.13.18 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
04.14.18 – Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount
04.17.18 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground Ballroom
04.18.18 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
04.19.18 – Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere
04.20.18 – Philadelphia PA –The Foundry at The Fillmore
04.21.18 – Washington, D.C. – U Street Music Hall
04.24.18 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
04.26.18 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall Upstairs
04.27.18 – Dallas, TX – Club Dada
04.28.18 – Austin, TX – The Sidewinder
05.02.18 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
05.03.18 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
05.05.18 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent

The 5 Best Videos Of The Week

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Taylor Swift’s “…Ready For It?” is a pretty bad video, and it’s not even bad in the ways that you would expect a Taylor Swift video to be bad. It’s expensive and meaningless and even maybe slightly pretentious? But at least it’s not boring? I have no idea what’s happening with it, and I … More »

Baths – “Out” Video

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Next month, bedroom-pop inner traveler Will Wiesenfeld will return with Romaplasm, a new album that he recorded under his Baths moniker. Today, Wiesenfeld has shared his video for the early single “Out,” and it is a deeply goofy piece of work. Wiesenfeld directed the video himself, and it’s a very homemade comedy skit about … More »

Baths – “Out”

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Will Wisenfeld is releasing a new Baths album next month called Romaplasm. We’ve already heard lead single “Yeoman” and today he’s shared an ecstatically pure one called “Out.” It’s a skittering, baroque pop song that compares two scary but empowering experiences. As Wisenfeld explains: “The title ‘Out’ has a dual meaning— either referring to … More »

Baths – “Yeoman”

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Baths mastermind Will Wiesenfeld put out an album of hazy ambience under his Geotic alter-ego last year, but he hasn’t released a record under the Baths name since 2014’s Ocean Death EP. That’s finally about to change. Today, Wiesenfeld announced that he’ll release a new Baths album called Romaplasm this fall. And he … More »

Hear Baths’ Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator Theme Song

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We already knew that PUP have a cameo appearance in Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, a new game in which you play as a hot single dad trying to date other hot single dads. But apparently, they’re not the only indie artists featured in the game. We haven’t heard much from Baths lately, … More »

Geotic – “Actually Smiling”

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AbysmaWhen Will Wiesenfeld is not composing glitchy twilight electronica as Baths, he sometimes pens more warm-blooded tunes under the alias Geotic. Today he’s released “Actually Smiling,” an inward track that exists in the intersection of dance and ambient. It’s the lead single from his forthcoming LP Abysma, his third full-length release as Geotic and a … More »