Baths - Cerulean - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Baths - Cerulean

by Louise Harlow Rating:8 Release Date:2010-08-02

All I ever do at the minute is like things. Endlessly. Flying in the face of widespread nay-saying. Heaping plaudits before another man's 'so-so'. I even started a highly exclusive appreciation society (of one) for the Books' new LP. Must review some tosh asap before I lose the ability to be judgemental and self-righteous.

But for the time being default reigns and I must drivel on about the blippy wonders of Baths' debut album, Cerulean. This LP is the sonic equivalent of taking a kip in a field full of crickets. It is a living organism, twitching and flinching, as Will Wiesenfeld's multi-tracked vocals ripple overhead. The eclectic scrapbook of loops, bleeps and beats that permeates Cerulean is fused throughout by Wiesenfeld's desire to avoid the arbitrary and project sentiment.

The crackling soundtrack of 'Rafting Starlit Everglades' bristles with tangibility (Wiesenfeld reworks the sounds of domesticity, manipulating samples of rustling blankets, pen clicks, scissors, etc) whilst 'Rain Smell' all but drips with the damp of a summer shower, propelled by a moth's wing pulse. Cerulean's early tracks teem with ambient hooks, from the squirmy slink of 'Apologetic Shoulder Blades', which flat-out refuses to slip into a steady groove, and the falsetto funk of 'Lovely Bloodflow's vocal skit. Here, Baths' easy way with integration is on show, as unlikely snatches of lounge piano sit comfortably atop the lazy groove of glitching percussive loops and arcade beeps.

The sample-led modus operandi of Cerulean takes Baths into the fringes of the territory occupied by NY's The Books, but not far enough to warrant a valid comparison. Though the chillwave churn of 'Maximalist' employs snatches of disembodied human speech, they are not the transformative lynchpin as on The Books' The Way Out. And the use of spoken childhood wisdom on 'Animals' is not treated with the playful irony of 'A Cold Freezing Night'.

That's not to say that Baths' debut doesn't have some heartstoppingly beautiful tracks, because it does. 'Hall' is achingly brilliant, emitting Wiesenfeld's helium yelps over a sinus rhythm pulse, and late high-point 'You're My Reason to Travel' beats Passion Pit at their own game with it's keening vocals and elastic groove (whilst also somehow making a bar-room piano sample sound positively woozy). This is drop-out music with brains intact. Get smart, go buy.

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