Baths – Romaplasm

Album Review by George Sully | 14 Nov 2017
Album title: Romaplasm
Artist: Baths
Label: Anticon
Release date: 17 Nov

Los Angeles nerdsmith Will Wiesenfeld finally emerges from a four-year silence (for this moniker, at least) with a new Baths record, and it’s as stately and complex as anything he’s made so far. Much in the same way the textural Cerulean and Obsidian crystallised his thoughts and fears, Romaplasm is billed as his own brand of Romanticism, coagulating nostalgic idealism into a bristling contemporary jelly.

Expect no radical departures from the glitchy, bubbly electronics established in his early 2010s output; Wiesenfeld has colonised this style and mined it industriously. We’ve got the same generously layered compositions – jangling synth melodies tangled up with found-sound percussion, the crackle of vinyl hiding beneath his breathy falsetto, ecclesiastical piano backed by strings – with everything sliced, diced, shuffled and kaleidoscoped.

But there’s a welcome brightness here. Hear dashes of Mylo in the sunny, propulsive Out, or youthful sci-fi adventurousness on Extrasolar, or videogame distractibility in the hyperactive Adam Copies. In a self-confessed return to the honest and solitary comforts of anime, games (“This must be the airship,” says the protagonist on Yeoman) and comics, Wiesenfeld is channelling that interior wonderment into an intelligent 50-minute LP. Of course, there are still moments of darkness; Human Bog and Lev are as gloomy – lyrically – as anything on Obsidian, just backlit by a newfound sonic daylight.

It’s all reassuringly consistent and distinctively Baths, managing to be both personal and kinetic as well as fantastical and otherworldly. He may not have switched up his style between albums, but now with this hat-trick of gems, there’s no need.

Listen to: Adam Copies, Out, Broadback