Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
With the last session that Will Wisenfeld did for us, there was an innocent and charmingly coy streak to it. It was soft and under-played, a bit. Here, with his second visit, which happened during the summer of 2013, there are still elements of that - of birds on a ledge, of people on a ledge. There are breaking points being heard in different stages. There are spirits adrift and there are folks staring longingly into the abyss that they've studied for a goodly amount of time. They've considered just how dark it is, along with how much light they might be able to find inside, if they were just able to reach down and rummage around a little bit.
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.
He sings in a way that makes you imagine taking in a solitary night, out in the middle of a still forest, without any lights anywhere, and there are the sounds of feet moving across the outdoor floor, sounding 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.
The ruminations here seem to involve being stumped by the living and the dying that, at some point, intersect. They can't be parallel forever and it's here where he mixes the ingredients and the "thought of mortality" gains its legs. A composition such as "Improv 2" is a wandering bit of shorting out and floating that might be what it's going to sound like when we're having those out-of-body experiences, looking down on our own dead body someday.
*Parts of this essay originally published January, 2011