Keith Kenniff is a busy enough musician that he needs several names to release work under. His Helios project has morphed from quiet instrumental organic/electronic music to incorporate vocals during his most recent outing, but his Goldmund project has always been solely about the piano. The Malady Of Elegance is his second full-length release under the name, following up on his debut of Corduroy Road and last years stop-gap Two Point Discrimination EP.
With a title like The Malady of Elegance, you probably know what you're getting into here, but once again Kenniff has created a delicate, slightly melancholy collection of pieces. Revolving around sparse prepared and straight piano, with the tiny textural noises of the prepared piano and a heavy dose of reverb creating long tails of wafting tones that smoothes everything together even more. Since the release of his debut, his work has been used a great deal by documentary filmmakers, feature film producers and even in advertising, and I imagine that will continue.
That said, the album is sequenced rather oddly. It opens with several tracks that are absolutely stunning, and although they're certainly not busy, their melodies are strong and engaging. "Image-Autumn-Womb" opens with warm progressions in higher registers cascading over one another while low notes hold and provide a bit of a deep foundation. "In A Notebook" is only two minutes, but might be some of the strongest work on the entire release melodically, as it plays out with an almost pop structure that's downright uplifting. "Threnody" follows a few tracks later, and the prepared piano clicks and shifts only add to the dusty warmth of the piece (which lingers in the middle registers but finds some long curls extending into the distance.
Unfortunately, much of the middle of the release is swallowed up by pieces that are certainly pretty, but simply don't go much of anywhere. The overlong "John Harrington" and the follower of "Apalachee" are some of the worst offenders, dropping sparse chords and minimal melodies in a bath of reverb, while not offering much in the way of pull. Kenniff is capable of pulling off longer pieces (as he does on the more developed closer of "Evelyn"), but ultimately The Malady Of Elegance suffers in the same way that a lot of releases of this nature do in that it simply leaves the listener hanging in a few too many places.