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EP Review: Ocean Death by Baths

[review]

Ocean Death, the latest release from Baths, is a five track EP which comes almost exactly a year after his third album ObsidianObsidian marked a new direction for L.A. based Will Wiesenfeld, leaving behind the optimistic romanticism of debut album Cerulean in favour of a bigger, fuller and – dare I say it – darker sound. This is reflected in part by the album covers – Cerulean’s is light, clean, and simple and Obsidian’s gloomy and brooding. With lyrics like ‘it is not a matter of/ if you love me/ it is just a matter of/ come and fuck me’ (on Obsidian track No Eyes) and ‘come bury your body in my graveyard’ (on single Ocean Death), there is no mistaking this for background music. Wiesenfeld is forcing us to listen. Tracks like Earth Death are much heavier than anything on Cerulean – something we’ve only come close to on second album Pop Music/False B Sides’ final track Damnation. After the respectively watery and airy elemental first and second albums, Obsidian was earthy and grounded, with more bass and more throttle. With obvious parallels between album and EP (such as song coupling ‘Earth Death’ and ‘Ocean Death’), Ocean Death starts out in a similar fashion; the cover art is similarly forbidding and it promises to be equally lyrically downbeat. Sure enough, the opening title track begins with heavy bass similar to what we’ve heard on Obsidian. But as Fade White invokes his classic glitchy beats and ping pong ball sounds tripping over one another, over a slower drum beat, there is a return to some of the softness of Cerulean. This is a transition which continues through the EP, concluding in fifth and final track Yawn, on which, accompanied by piano and skittering clicking sounds (similar to those found on Nicolas Jaar’s Space Is Only Noise), we are brought full circle to something a lot like his earlier material. Ocean Death is a compact summing up of everything Baths does best, proving his capacity to create music which is both intense and playful.

Listen:

 

Poppy Turner

Originally hailing from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, Poppy is currently based in London. Music and writing both play a big part in her life, so it would seem natural to combine the two. When not writing about music or going to gigs, she writes poetry and studies at Queen Mary, University of London.

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