311 E. Congress St.
Tucson, AZ, 85701
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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 Geotic 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.
Originally from Chicago, Houses is Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina. They formed in 2010 after a 3 month stint in Papaikou Hawaii living off the land . With no modern conveniences the couple worked for meals during the day cultivating indigenous microorganisms and learning the basics of sustainable living. They drank, showered and cooked with rain water applying the basics of grassroots, cultivated reality known to few. This was the inspiration behind their first album All Night put out on Lesfe Records. In the time since the couple have moved to Los Angeles, signed to Downtown Records (Major Lazer, White Denim, Cold War Kids, Miike Snow, Santigold) and written their sophomore album A Quiet Darkness with an equally if not more beautiful process. Recorded over the course of 2012 splitting time between their new home and Sonic Ranch, A Quiet Darkness's narrative tells the story of a husband and wife separated in the midst of a nuclear disaster and their attempt to reunite with one another along the Highway 10 in California before their inevitable deaths, each song taking place in different abandoned houses along the way. Tortoriello and Messina made the same trek a couple of times themselves to record sound and video at these abandoned houses that are featured in the album. The album's celestial ambiance and wanderlust concepts are conveyed throughout the recording with techniques employed by Tortoriello's production and the stark contrast between the minimal electronic pulses, found sounds and meandering and melancholy harmonies. The ethereal sound on which Houses was built is woven through A Quiet Darkness, the 2013 release shows a deep and pensive side to a band who clearly encompass a darker side of bliss; a bold new bravado that will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced love and loss.
In the hands of producer Djavan Santos, a.k.a. D33J, what should be computer-quantized or staid is given light and life. Aquatic textures overlap with bedroom clicks, muffled vocals & vacuous guitar to form hazy late night jams with just enough rhythm for a syrup-drenched dancefloor. Colors change over the course of a song — cool blues melt to hearthy reds — and melodies wind their way through shifting textures while new forms are created at every turn. Though D33J is a solo sound technician, his sound is variegated. It is lush and large and it is alive.
Of course, the 22-year-old's pedigree demands as much. Los Angeles born and bred, D33J attended the city's prestigious yet public Hamilton High alongside Anticon's Baths, OFWGKTA's Syd the Kid, the FIDLAR boys, and Friends of Friends bit-bender Groundislava. While there, he studied both guitar and electronic music, and caught friends' shows after-hours when he wasn't experimenting with software at home.
When D33J moved north to study experimental audio and visual design at the San Francisco Art Institute, he was initiated into the WEDIDIT mafia (via Shlohmo, Ryan Hemsworth, Jonwayne, RL Grime), with whom he nurtured a strongly weirdo cult lifestyle and further developed his unique approach to crafting instrument-infused, R&B-touched bedroom techno.
D33J recently returned to L.A. to claim his rightful place among the city's vital noise-makers. While he continues to seed the Wedidit BlogSpot with bold R3MIX3S — see clutch reinventions of Brandy, Sigur Rós, and Drake — Anticon is giving his Tide Songs EP the debut it deserves. The five tracks contained therein offer an inventive, brightly budding intro to an artist who's only just begun to blow the eff up himself.
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