Helios - Veriditas

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2018-08-31
Helios - Veriditas
Helios - Veriditas

Veriditas is the sixth album from Helios, the primary pseudonym of Keith Kenniff. As with his other project, Goldmund, under whose name he released another album, Occasus, earlier this year, the music here is extremely calm and soothing, with nary a sharp edge to be found. This is the kind of music to which you can do yoga, meditate, or even float off to sleep. But while it is somnambulant, it's not necessarily soporific. It lends itself to drifting inward rather than downward.

These songs are like faded water color paintings, more like hazy impressions and gentle reminders of some half-forgotten innocence than anything else. Each tune is outlined with deep, slow pads and given form with delicate piano or keyboard work. Most strongly, they convey a feeling of purity, of redemption, of finding some inner wellspring of strength. They manage almost paradoxically to combine a sense of quiet joy and enduring stoicism. Opening track 'Seeming' epitomizes this feeling, sounding both incredibly solemn but also yearning up towards something ineffable and grand. It's an astonishing beginning and an absolute standout. 'Eventually' is another complex blend of emotions, like a funeral for an angel.

A number of tracks follow in the styles of previous ambient masters like Biosphere (the slow-plucked guitar in 'Upward Beside the Gale'), Tycho ('Toward You' with its worn-out analog fuzziness), and even early Aphex Twin ('Row the Tide' with seemingly endless, crystalline pads and a dreamlike sense of timelessness). Kenniff makes his music at night, and you get the feeling he thinks there's something sacred going on in the wee hours.

A few tracks are more intense, although still nowhere near frenetic or harsh. 'Even Today' slowly builds an smoldering electric tension before giving itself over to heavy bass pads and evaporating. 'Latest Lost' whistles like wind through an abandoned town. And closing track 'Mulier' is almost Steve Roachesque in its' bottomless emptiness.

For ambient enthusiasts, this is easily one of the best, if not the best, ambient set of the year, although Kenniff is going head-to-head against his Goldmund release for top honors this year. He continues to create works of stunning beauty with remarkable consistency. It's tough to get to detailed with most of the songs here because they are so abstract, but the crucial part is the way the music makes you feel. If you're looking for relaxation and peace, look no further. The set is exquisite, almost healing in its beauty. If you've enjoyed any of Kenniff's other work this is a no-brainer, and this album provides a great entry point to ambient music for the novice.

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