I can?t help but admire Keith Kenniff for his courage. As Goldmund, he gave us a pristine piano album ? the first ever piano music that I genuinely came to love. Other piano albums have found my appreciation, but I still honour ?Corduroy Road? as a life-changing album. As Helios, Kenniff creates experimental indie electronics and according to my iPod counter, ?Eingya? is the album I?ve listened to most often in the last 18 months.
So, for people like me, if Kenniff releases a new Helios ep on which he sings not in one, but in ALL the tracks, it can only disappoint. Having seen Kenniff perform last fall in Brussels planetarium, I frankly couldn?t imagine him singing at all. Or raising his voice, ever. That?s another reason why I call this ep daring.
The thing is, ?Ayres? is great, and I couldn?t be more surprised. The six tracks on this ep might be a bit more conventional than Kenniff?s earlier releases. The well-known elements of the Helios sound ? dreamlike synthscapes, elegant drum programming and gentle guitar strumming ? are now supported by Kenniff?s whispers, the sound of his throat when he breathes in or out, singing. His words are shaped breath.
It?s not all bliss and sunshine on ?Ayres?, however, and I like the ep the better for it. Standout track ?The Obeisant Vine? confronts spacious piano parts with Keith?s voice on the brink of cracking, which only enhances the fragile effect. And the final track, a cover of ?In Heaven? from David Lynch?s ?Eraserhead? soundtrack, isolates the beauty of the track as a glorious piano motif before it threatens to drown it in short waves of drones and metallic screeches. Not even the haunting piano part itself remains pure as Kenniff plays it on a prepared piano, adding an all-too adequate granularity.
It?s fascinating to see the career of this musician develop. ?Ayres? is yet another addition to the incredible Type catalogue. On his Myspace site he mentions new Goldmund releases in fall and in early 2008. Man, will I be waiting for these. 9/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (5 September, 2007)