Baths – Obsidian
In contrast to the lo-fi, spider-webbed textures of 2010's Cerulean, Obsidian is constructed from solid blocks of stuttering, precision-tooled beats, intricate piano refrains, found sounds, and the layered, choral falsetto of Will Wiesenfeld. Inspired in part by a life-threatening bout with E-Coli, and research into subjects such as the Black Plague and Dante's Inferno, it's a darker-hued collection.
Minor chord refrains and baroque song structures proliferate, and the lyrics return unerringly to themes of death, pain and suffering (“Are you you maybe here to help me hurt myself?” Wiesenfeld pleads over the stately electro of Miasma Sky; while on the propulsive Obituary, he murmurs feverishly: “Death pirouettes through the flicker of the wick and makes you sick...”).
Incompatible subtly echoes Anticon's past glories, whilst No Eyes has a woozy, minimal beauty; but it's the ambitious No Past Lives, with its disorienting time-changes and shoegaze guitars, that provides the album's peak. Complex, challenging and incredibly rewarding.