Published May 27, 2013Getting signed to a well-respected independent record label at a young age — Will Wiesenfeld had just turned 21 as Cerulean, his debut release as Baths, was released on Anticon — meant he had to do much of of his maturing, both musically and personally, in public. The added pressure of your debut release achieving unanimous critical acclaim can also bring its own challenges — tour fatigue and "difficult second album syndrome" amongst them (just ask Wavves) — but Wiesenfeld says his second album as Baths came more naturally than the first. "This is far more along the lines of the type of music I want to make." he says. "I was able to take more time with it and the material means more to me. A lot of the time I'd start to feel very tired of performing songs off the first record; I didn't feel emotionally connected to them."
Named for the dark, brittle material that forms from cooled lava following a volcanic eruption, Obsidian couldn't be a more fitting title for the melancholic suite of songs that came together in the aftermath of Bath's own explosion. "It happened so fast with Cerulean. You don't really understand your relationship with the songs if you're making them that quickly. They're already out in the world." As the title implies, Obsidian is darker territory for Baths, dealing with concepts of a personal nature as well as the fantastical and macabre. "I re-read some parts of the bible and I read Dante's Inferno. I was also looking at a lot of medieval artwork and illuminated manuscripts and a bit of history of Europe and the black plague, just to get a sense of what it was like for people to live in a god-fearing realm. I'm not religious in the least and that sense of awe is missing in my own life."
A naturally ebullient person, Wiesenfeld is nevertheless drawn to this dark subject matter, citing the music of Azeda Booth, sightseeing gothic churches while on tour in England and psychological horror movies amongst his inspiration. "I was so often writing outside of myself because I'm not a dark or depressed person, but I've definitely had those feelings and had moments of doubt." The concept of turning subjects like being buried alive or suicide into pop music was something that the L.A.-based musician had always admired in the music of others and wanted to put his own spin on. "Within the realm of pop music there's sad music everywhere but I wanted to work towards a different brand of it where it was more bleak than it was 'woe is me.'"
Several of the songs on the new record pre-date Cerulean, but Wiesenfeld changed tack, concerned that it wouldn't make a good first impression. "I had three fleshed-out songs and was working towards the idea of making a darker pop record, all the stuff that Obsidian ended up being. Then I got signed and felt I had to backpedal a bit and make a more digestible introductory album."
And although his music is constructed electronically, Wiesenfeld feels miscategorised as an electronic artist. "I'm not a DJ. I'm not sampling vocals from someone else and making a hot track. I'm trying to make a record, which is a whole different thing. I grew up obsessing over Björk records and that Kate Bush record, Hounds Of Love is still one of my favourites ever."