Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's not all that far-fetched to hear it in Will Wiesenfeld's impressive debut album, "Cerulean," but he's made it that much easier to discern here, on this recording - three-fourths of which is material that he's only been playing live, but has never properly recorded. Wiesenfeld has a project in Baths that acts as a diversion, at times, but the reality seems to be that he's a humongous softie. He could be made of the fluffiest plush material and filled with pillow stuffing. He could be quick to cry. He might keep tattered photos of deceased loved ones tucked into the folds of his wallet, to slide out and stare at every so often when he's feeling down and out. There's darkness that feels as if it descends over the stories that Wiesenfeld brings to life - usually with some aggressively lively beats, though here it's with simple piano and various odds and ends - and only rarely does it lift. It's a darkness that just sits there, like an old dog. It lies across your body, like a lazy, floppy log, making your legs go numb after some time. It has the tenacity to lie there for a long time, too, shifting its weight a little, but it settles in for a spell. Baths is a moving project that cuts to the bone of what really gets to us and what really stymies us. We get heartbroken and we feel emotional pain because we have no other choice but to get heartbroken and to feel pain. We were built that way. We were built to absorb it all and let it work on us, let it wear us down until it's just us and the lonely lamp, the lonely light drifting. "The Water," a song that he collaborated on here with tourmate Martin Dosh, is a song that makes us think about taking in a solitary night, out in the middle of a still forest, without any lights anywhere, and the sound of feet moving across the outdoor floor is like artillery fire. It makes us think of just opening the door and taking our bodies out into a night such as this one - perhaps it's even on the brisk side, cold enough to need a hat and mittens. One hand has a flashlight in it and it finds the many reflective, glassy eyes lurking in between the trees, but there's a calm that sets over these bodies rummaging about aimlessly. They steam, as if they've just been pulled out of an outdoor hot tub. They languish in the collision of body heat meeting its match in cold temperatures, as they suddenly feel that wind and that nip is at their furthest extremities. Wiesenfeld sings at the very top of "Plea," "Love, this is a dark world and I've lost focus," leaving us out there in the wandering state of confusion, of shooting in the dark. It feels as if he takes this state seriously, or has invested plenty of time in getting to know it better. When he gets back to singing about the "dark world," in this session's closing song, we sense that this is no passing thing. It is not impermanent, but something of a birth mark, something that is not going to wipe off. He sings in a hushed voice, "The quiet here is deepest without love/Can't help but feel that the water is a part of us." He takes us into those thick, murky waters and we feel the pull upon our feet, bringing us closer to the bottom, where we won't see a thing, but we might feel ten times as much.