Three years ago, Baths dropped his startlingly beautiful debut, Cerulean. Released on Anticon, the record blurred the line between post-modern pop and the LA beat scene with devastating emotional clarity. Its tone was as celestial as its album title, taken from a shade of blue typically used to describe the sky.
Cerulean earned year-end “Best Of” recognition from Pitchfork and The Onion’s A.V. Club and established Chatsworth-raised Will Wiesenfeld as one of the finest young composers (and falsettos) in Los Angeles. His sophomore album, Obsidian finds him emerging as one of the most complete artists of his generation. As you might expect, the name hints at darker overtones. The mood is shimmering and pitch-black, the lovely blood flow has turned into lava.
“I’ve always been inspired by really dark material and from the beginning I knew I wanted the songs to be much darker, both musically and lyrically,” Baths says.
Following the success of his first album, Baths spent much of the next year touring to progressively larger audiences. He also released an ethereal ambient project under the Goetic name. When he returned home in July of 2011 to record his sophomore effort, he was bedridden for months because of the E. Coli bacterial virus, barely able to digest solid food and bereft of creative energy.
Obsidian understandably has these scars etched into its imprint. The first song is called “Worsening,” subsequent cuts include “Ossuary,” “No Past Lives” and “Earth Death.” While the mood is often bleak, it’s never bloated. “Miasma Sky” balances being “swallowed alive by the sky” with a gorgeous piano groove and levitative croon that could detonate a disco club night. The album is unusually cohesive, suffused with heavenly choirs, head-nodding percussion, erotic lyrics, and wry humor
“The songs and lyrics all came out of a pretty fucked and arduous process of trial and error,” Baths says. ”But I hope people understand that I’m not the depressed, suicidal, and death-obsessed person the record may paint me as being. These are just darker areas that I wanted to explore.”
The areas of exploration include reading and research into the Dark Ages and the black plague, different versions of Hell as spied through Dante’s Inferno, the Bible, and old world illuminated manuscripts and paintings. These noirish fascinations met the virtuosic chops of a 24-year old who has been playing piano for 20 years.
“Anything I found that felt like a unique vision of darker emotions or atmospheres, I tried to absorb,” Baths says. “Being a positive and outgoing guy made it that much more difficult getting into that mindset. It was a matter of tapping into that and returning with songs that felt genuine and somehow from my own personal experience.”
This is the power of Obsidian. It combines universal questions with personal pain. On just his second album, Baths exhibits what only a few artists are capable of: painting in any shade they desire.
Emerging from the endless summers of Venice, CA to teaming up with Shlohmo, Jonwayne, D33J, RL Grime and more to form the Wedidit crew, Jasper Patterson aka Groundislava has transformed from bashful video gamer to full-fledged composer. The son of Michael Patterson (who directed A-Ha’s standout music video “Take On Me” and Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract”), Groundislava has roots that draw from 80s nostalgia, TV and pop culture that grow and transform into the 21st Century aesthetic of electronic music.
Recently tapped for official remixes of Slugabed and Shlohmo as well as Kutmah’s Brownswood compilation, Groundislava returns with the ‘Feel Me’ LP, the follow-up full-length to his self-titled 2011 debut. A mature step for the artist, ‘Feel Me’ showcases Groundislava’s unique sensibilities for developing sweeping soundscapes, luscious backdrops and somber tracks in a distinct sound all his own.
The subdued groove and melancholic melodies of tracks like “Suicide Mission” featuring ghostly vocals from Baths and “Bottle Service” featuring Shlohmo balance the big room dynamics and technicolor soundscape of tracks like “Olympia 2011” and the bass heavy boom of “Cool Party”. On others, like “TV Dream” featuring the enigmatic Clive Tanaka, Groundislava composes an ebullient ode to a friendship’s inception, soaking it in summery vibes and phantom playfulness.