Ghostly International
LP (beryll)
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The catalog of American composer Keith Kenniff spans over a dozen releases as Helios and nearly as many as Goldmund since 2004. Kenniff's music deals with subtlety, and the variance between these projects loosely follows a few signifiers; Goldmund favors post-classical piano, Mint Julep, a project with his partner Hollie, is shoegaze pop, while the lines around his Helios project are intentionally hazier. Within the alias, Kenniff glides between minimal ambient electronics and more robust instrumentation, all run through his mini-cassette recorder for a distinct wobble.

Nearly 20 years in, Kenniffs has mastered the signature slow-building emotional arc. Take the golden-hued »Lineoa«, which blooms from a simple guitar phrase to a fully symphonic, climactic closing scene. Ever-curious, he welcomes new sounds across the album, like the sinuous flute on »A Familiar Place« and the divine, digitized vocal presence on »Emeralds«. These production choices keep the Helios project from receding into the background, even if the artist himself is private, and the ambient space in which he thrives is often uniquely tied to other activities in our lives. On »Espera«, Kenniff is a producer and multi-instrumentalist leaning into the rich details, and the vistas he's surveyed are wider and more captivating than ever.