Helios: Caesura

Caesura, Keith Kenniff's fifth Type release, presents the Helios style in perhaps its most appealing light to date, in large measure because the Boston-based producer's integration of acoustic and electronic sounds has become increasingly refined over time with no compromise to its organic and natural character. The full-length follow-up to Eingya moves Kenniff away from the piano-centered style of Goldmund to a lush garden of earthly delights that can sometimes seem almost paradisiacal in character.

The album sets sail on a glorious note with “Hope Valley Hill” and its soothing blend of plaintive electric guitars, laid-back beats, and atmospheric sweetening. The tune's sensual languor provides the perfect entry point to the album, and the nine transporting settings that follow do little to sully the initial impression. The soft breath of his voice blows across gently swaying fields in “Glimpse” while glistening synthesized tones form a backdrop to elegant guitar shadings in “Backlight.” It's also easy to hear Helios and Manual as kindred spirits when the iridescent “Come With Nothings” appears with its gossamer web of guitars and drum machine beats. In “Fourteen Drawings,” electric guitar melodies stream gracefully over a chiming swell of forest atmospheres and an anchoring drum pattern whose crackling snares are countered by the heft of a heavy bass drum. Interestingly, the beat patterns Kenniff uses (in “Shoulder to Hand” and “Hollie,” for example) are so simple as to be almost tribal in character and as such distance themselves from “fashionable” electronic beat patterning; they also give his Helios sound an earthier quality that makes it feel less mired in the present. Throughout this fifty-minute recording, Kenniff dresses up his Helios sound with minimal piano melodies, sparkling acoustic and electric guitars, and simple beat patterns until becalmed, symphonic wholes are the result.

December 2008