Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Don't Call it Dubstep

music Baths3Electronic artist Baths crafts glitchy beats for introspection—and a bit of dancing
Every once in a while, Will Wiesenfeld gets mistaken for someone else, and it makes him uneasy. The 22-year-old southern California musician, who performs and records as Baths, recalls one such mix-up clearly:
"This guy comes up to me after the show and goes, 'Hey, bro! I've never heard dubstep with vocals before.' I felt really weird about that."

Although his music can be glitchy and dance-floor friendly, and while he performs hunched over his laptop, twisting knobs and punching the rubber trigger pads of his MIDI controller, much like stadium wompers Skrillex and Deadmau5, those who check out the show at Kuumbwa Jazz on Dec. 16 will see that Baths is not exactly a dubstep project.

"I'm not trying to make bass music," Wiesenfeld says. "I'm doing my best to separate myself from it." And he's succeeding for the most part, as Baths is often too tweaked to be danceable.

Take "Apologetic Shoulder Blades." The first track on 2010's Cerulian sounds like a machine becoming self-aware through the recital of some sacred digital hymn. It begins with wordless chanting—the disparate voices falling into harmony, but only by accident; the drum machine sputters to life and presses urgently forward in fits and starts for the duration of the song. Clicks, blips, bleeps and found sounds, mark the passage of time as the tune lurches along like some wild Rube Goldberg contraption, until it finishes as awkwardly (and as marvelously) as it began, with that fragmented and haphazardly harmonious chanting.

If a Baths track is too spastic to get anyone's feet moving in a comfortable pattern, it may very well be too mellow. Such is the case with "Rain Smell," a slow and mournful meditation on separation, which is composed of little more than a single repeating lyric over faraway piano tinkering, a spare beat, and the sound of rainfall.

These aren't songs for raving, though each might work for the kids in the cool-down room, who took too many hits to move their bodies in any coordinated fashion and have left the dance floor in search of some plush couches to recline on, while examining the beams of light filtering through their fanned, outstretched fingers.

Wiesenfeld's music is very introspective, which he attributes, at least in part, to his upbringing in the "unremarkable" suburbs of the San Fernando Valley, where he learned to lock himself in his room and search for inspiration in faraway places that he could only imagine.

"There was a longing for something more beyond what was around me in my environment," he explains, noting that neither of his parents were musicians and he learned music by listening to records. Early on in high school, Wiesenfeld got hooked on electronica, which sowed the seeds for his first solo project, [Post-Foetus], and ultimately Baths. "The first time I heard Bjork—that was really ear opening."

Still, try as he might, Wiesenfeld has not managed to fully divorce himself from the recent explosion of electronic dance music that is currently creeping into pop music. And perhaps he isn't as averse to wobbly bass drops and mainframe-malfunction breakdowns that have been showing up in songs by Top 40 stars like Rihanna, Kanye West, and LMFAO. "It's good in some ways," he concedes.

Though he says he doesn't like being associated with the brand of electronic music that is played on the radio today, Wiesenfeld occasionally incorporates some of the genre's trappings into his music—the robotic hiccups, the slowly escalating whoosh filter, astral synthesizers and bass-heavy beats that might even get a crowd (gasp!) dancing.


Baths plays at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12/adv, $15/door. For more information, call 427-2227.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.