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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Print: the Forward Leanings of Baths, Eskmo, and oOoOO, Plus the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 8:37 AM

click to enlarge Baths' Will Wiesenfeld
  • Baths' Will Wiesenfeld

You're Okay, Computer: Consider Baths, the stage name of 21-year-old bedroom producer Will Wiesenfeld, who uses a laptop and various other tools to make beat music, with vocals, that is melancholic and complex and beautiful. A sudden star on the much-heralded L.A. beat scene, the classically trained Wiesenfeld builds dense, organic-sounding productions out of machine-made beats, piano, random samples, and his own wilted voice. "Lovely Bloodflow," a highlight from last year's rightly acclaimed debut, Cerulean, weaves a hesitant, stumbling beat through what sounds like the plucked strings of an acoustic guitar. On top of this, he spreads several layers of his own singing into something like a traditional pop structure. "You are my bloodflow, baby lovely bloodflow" he moans, rather creepily, for the chorus. This is confessional electronic pop, poetic and intimate, yet driving. Wiesenfeld doesn't always sing -- the next song, "Maximalist," uses vocal samples with a more brusque hip-hop beat -- but his laptop-pop feels expressive the way that folk or rock or emo-anything can.

The Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Won't Be Your Regular Rock Show: As eternally awesome as the concept of the rock concert is, its basic format could always use some souping up. Major bands typically enhance the basic premise of people playing their instruments by throwing in fancy-shmancy lights and pyrotechnics. Even though the smaller groups' budgets can't quite compare, a smart live band should at least aim to provide something special. Lightning Bolt and Dan Deacon play sets while physically immersed in crowds. Quintron and Miss Pussycat put on puppet shows and employ homemade instruments. Monotonix goes for dangerous stunts like igniting drum kits and leaping from uncomfortable heights. Even the rather staid Yo La Tengo is spinning a gameshow-like wheel to determine what its first set will involve. Sure, these ideas are prone to becoming gimmicky when overused, but if employed properly, they go a mile in making a show feel like a special experience.

This is why the Elephant 6 Collective's Holiday Surprise Tour sounds like such a blast, even if you know barely a note by its artists. For the sequel to its 2008 Holiday Surprise Tour, the Athens, Ga.-based music collective will assemble a megaband that includes members of Neutral Milk Hotel, the Gerbils, Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, the Music Tapes, Major Organ and Adding Machine, Nana Grizol, and a handful of other acts affiliated with the indie rock-leaning project. In total, about 12 musicians will dip into some 50 songs prepped for this tour.

Also, we recommend shows from DeVotchKa and Le Castle Vania.

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Ian S. Port

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