Helios - Caesura
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Caesura is the third full-length from the ever-busy Keith Kenniff under the name of Helios (he also records solo piano work as Goldmund), and it picks up right where Eingya left off. Of course, in the middle there he released the Ayres EP, where he briefly flirted with incorporating his own vocals into his work, but here he's back to his usual instrumental bliss, albeit with a slightly more electronic feel than usual.

That's not to say that he's changed his overall style with more glitch or filtering, but Caesura definitely feels a bit more filled-out than his last full-length, with more layering of sound. None of it is extremely heavy or dense, but it definitely gives these ten songs a more lush feel. Essentially, it's about what you'd expect, with organic instrumentation (guitar, piano, drums) mingling tastefully and expertly with electronics (synths, programmed beats).

At that same time, there's not a sound on Caesura that feels out of place or even rough. It's completely smooth sailing from the warm opening whiffs of "Hope Valley Hill" to the closing ringing guitars and dreamy hiss of "Hollie." Kenniffs music has always been cinematic and even sentimental (often in a good way), but having heard all his work to date, the fifty minutes here often spin into treacly territory that sound very close to rehashes of old work. "Glimpse" and "A Mountain Of Ice" both move with the same clomping drums and deep bass shifts, with the latter sliding into a slighty gritty ending with wordless vocals that redeems it somewhat, but there are several tracks like the mellow "The Red Truth" that are content to winnow out the day.

That's not to say that I expect or even need Kenniff to rock things to keep my interest, but Caesura does tend to hold attention the most when it adds a bit of edge to the instrumentation. "Backlight" is a perfect example, sending sonar blips off crisp live drums while some jangling, almost indie-rock guitars blend with loads of other tonal layers for what's essentially a five-minute series of gorgeous crescendos that unfold in beautiful ways. Kenniff certainly got an ear for combining lovely sounds in ways that stir the emotions, but for the first time it sounds like he's in a bit of a rut in terms of new ideas.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2008-11-13 21:25:49