Helios: Eingya
Type Records

Helios's Eingya is so rapturous it's less an album one listens than surrenders to. A splendid follow-up to Keith Kenniff's last Helios outing Unomia (Merck, 2004), Eingya is, in fact, a more natural complement to last year's equally arresting piano outing Corduroy Road (issued under Kenniff's Goldmund alias). Like it, Eingya sculpts a hymnal mood (the gorgeous “The Toy Garden” and “Emancipation” two examples), though this time Kenniff extends the instrumental palette to include guitars and drums. The closest analogue to Kenniff's particular brand of folktronica might be Greg Davis's Arbor (specifically its closing piece “Snowfall”) as both works exude bucolic splendour and a central focus on acoustic guitar playing. At other moments, Eingya recalls Sigur Rós (the stately “For Years And Years”) and the percussion patterns that softly rumble through many songs may remind some listeners of Early Morning Migration, the recent collaboration by Ezekiel Honig and Morgan Packard.

Unfurling with confident ease, Eingya creeps in slowly, with tentative piano tinklings and electric guitar shadings establishing a pensive mood at the start of “Bless This Morning Year” before the song's gently pealing melodies appear. Here and elsewhere, Kenniff adds electronic touches—in this case synthesizer atmosphere—but the effect verges on subliminal, the enhancement handled as part of the piece's overall texture. Throughout the album, Kenniff demonstrates an admirable propensity for nuance. “Bless This Morning Year,” for example, exudes a mournful feel yet its heartbreaking aura is more hinted at than overtly stated while “Dragonfly Across An Ancient Sky” likewise etches a melancholy grace that's more alluded to than anything else. Framed by bird chirps, the pastoral “Halving The Compass” is particularly lovely, with electric guitar figures delicately chiming over a softly churning rumble and caressed by warm piano chords. “Vargtimme” seems to court ambient beauty a little too deliberately but in general Kenniff's masterful Eingya makes for alluring listening.

June 2006