Baths - Romaplasm Album Review
After four years of side projects, EPs and soundtrack work, Will Wiesenfeld has returned with his first full length Baths project since 2013’s Obsidian. Though it received little critical fanfare upon its release, Obsidian proved glitch pop and glitch hop had the capacity to explore darker themes and soundscapes beyond the sugary and IDM releases before it. It laid the groundwork for darker and more experimental artists in the genre to emerge such as Arca and Clarence Clarity. Now with his new album Romaplasm, Wiesenfeld is less interested in pushing the boundaries of the genre and instead doubles down on pouring his unique personality into the production and lyrics of his music.
Romaplasm feels personal without feeling like a therapy session; on Obsidian, Wiesenfeld bared his inner turmoil raw and Romaplasm showcases himself after having dealt with this depressive bout. He’s playful instead of brooding, exciting instead of dreadful. Prior to Romaplasm’s release, Wiesenfeld stated, “I’m not as emotive with real world things as I am when I’m neck deep in anime, video games, books or comics. I wanted to be honest with myself that this is where my heart lies and where I get the most emotion out of life. I wanted a record that mirrors those emotions but in an indirect way.”
Wiesenfeld achieves this goal with flying colors on Romaplasm, coming through with one of the most joyful albums of the year. Wiesenfeld’s falsetto vocals are warmer than ever before, an air of flirtation and romance that’s sweet while still sounding genuine. This same effect is found in the album’s lyrics, celebrating the unique aspects of his life that comes with being a gay man while still retaining a sense of humor that gives the album charisma. While it doesn’t build a cheerful atmosphere to the same degree that Obsidian built a depressive atmosphere, it nevertheless achieves a similar level of personal openness that will resonate with more people than Obsidian, just not to the same degree as that album.
Sonically, Baths is creative as ever, though funneled through more traditional pop structures than any release prior. Bright synths burst over idiosyncratic beats that are difficult to pin down to even the most trained listener. Softer moments are sprinkled throughout the project, but the highlights here are where Baths pushes his compositions to the boiling point, bubbling over with colorful production that warms the listener's heart while raising their heartbeat at the same time.
But missing are the layered and diverse instrumentation that made Obsidian such a sonic earworm. Tracks like “Yeoman,” “Adam Copies” and “I Form” get close, but ultimately falls short. That’s not to say Wiesenfeld was necessarily aiming for this, as his focus on thematic and emotional progression certainly warrant the pop-friendlier approach. It’s an artistic choice that will resonate with some and be a letdown for others depending on personal preference. Obsidian was unabashedly obsessed with its sonic landscape, fine tuning the minute perfections. It was unique to hear this progressive electronic sound paired with the raw depressive emotions of a person dealing with the struggles of being a gay man, though Wiesenfeld’s personality will be unique enough for more listeners now that it’s placed at the forefront of his music.
Wiesenfeld can’t be faulted for wanting to move in this new direction, especially for how well he was able to execute on it. Romaplasm is Baths in its most concentrated and consumable form that will ultimately be more relatable and enjoyable for a wider audience. Wiesenfeld proves that his music can be technically engaging and fun at the same time with Romaplasm and shows that fully embracing yourself and all your quirks can be just as interesting of an artistic direction as introspection on one’s inner turmoil.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Public Relations