Review Summary: Helios hits the spot with this treasure-chest of ambience – remote, purely wealthy, and bountiful.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience,” is not a quote you will find in this album because it is instrumental, however it invokes the same feeling of peace as you willingly drown in its breathtaking essence. Listed as organic electronic/ambience, these are terms unfamiliar to me, but I am certainly allowing the music to prove itself as such. Indeed a captivating hybrid of natural and opaquely mechanical sounds, “Eingya” leaves the listener saying… well actually not being able to say much, but only forsake their petty remarks and be lulled into a serene haven. Organic is exactly the word to describe the imagery that may arise in your mind. While sitting entranced one evening in front of the ambient music channel on my buddy’s television, an artist whom draws similar atmospheric comparisons in my mind to Helios, came on the mix. His name was Robert Rich, and after learning that he had performed in not only cathedrals but caves, my respect quickly shot up like a corn-stalk. Bear with my numerous uses of nature imagery phrases please, because it’s oh-so-fitting.
Helios is comprised of a fellow by the name of Keith Kenniff. Graduating from Berklee with degrees in composition and percussion, Kenniff not only has education to prove his excellence but numerous endeavors as well. Other than Helios, he goes under the pianist moniker of “Goldmund”, communes with his wife in a shoe-gaze project called “Mint Julep” (isn’t that the life?), and is involved in other noteworthy acts. This album is the map placer for Helios and is a sure delight for a wide audience- ranging from those with grass-blade-sensitive ears, searching for background music to find security in, to experienced music connoisseurs, seeking enlightenment in refreshing styles of sound.
An almost perfect blend of percussive loops, soft piano, acoustic guitar, various synthesizers, and elements of nature can be acknowledged right off the bat. What this album really comes down to (literally being stripped down to in the purest, naturalistic form) is this primitive emotion encompassing your very being. The tracks alternate between strangely calming electronic beat patterns with a backdrop of soul-crushing melodic brooks (not referring to the western -“Blazing Saddles”), and solely ambient passages - ones that make you smile on the inside. Special moments of birds whistling and rain pattering under rolling thunder are featured exquisitely. This ambient electronica is quite the opposite of “forced” or “cheesy” or “unnatural” or any other misinformed prejudices listeners might have formed in their minds. Inversely, this masterpiece flows with human movements/feelings while at the same time being rooted in the freshness of greenery and elemental things such as: salt, water, oxygen, etc. Helios is not all subhuman though, drawing inspiration from Boards of Canada, his admiration for them can clearly be heard. Many genres shine through the rays of Kenniff’s compositions here – ambient, electronica, post-rock, and an “earthy” world style (yes, I made that sensible play-on-words). Another possible hindrance to delving head-first into this may be the affectionate cartoon lovebirds holding hands, but for goodness’ sakes, don’t judge an album by the cover.
This record is such a strong effort and reaches the highest of potential for the humble musical mastermind – Kenniff. Helios is a nice retreat from your typical confined playlist (unless of course you are known to go on ambient trips). The only hindrance for some people is if they demand a sing-along, convenient duration of a tune. This is a pretty epic bunch of songs (clocking in at a little under an hour) which should leave the listener calmly anxious to hear the next piece. I sincerely doubt this album will grow any listener weary anytime in the foreseeable future. Shameful thing is I wasn’t recommended this earlier. It is a beautiful work of art and when discovered, will leave one in awe and feeling pleasant – like a few sprays of favorable cologne. Helios hits the spot with this treasure-chest of ambience – obscure, purely wealthy, and bountiful.