RJD2’s The Third Hand should serve as the blueprint for how not to musically “progress”. Deciding he wanted to be a indie-rock star, Ramble Jon Krohn’s almost uniformly panned junior effort was mainly bogged down by his frail voice and cliché lyrics. Helios’ own Keith Kenniff, not known for his vocals, but for his warm ambient electronica, has similarly taken the plunge on his new Ayres EP. Thankfully, Kenniff doesn’t fall prey to RJD2’s mistakes. Firstly, he doesn’t put his lyrics up front, but emphasizes the subtlety and sound of his voice, rather than trying to make important personal statements with it. “Signed I Wish You Well” weaves upon a beat that sounds like crushed autumn leaves. Adding to it, Kenniff sings, “Another lazy day / Another rainy day / A stay home day”, allowing his words to meld with the aural images conjured up by his sounds. Kenniff’s voice is what you would expect from his music: all frail, reverbed whispers and pregnant pauses. In the past, Kenniff’s Helios work often elicited Boards of Canada and Brian Eno comparisons, but now it sounds more like Jimmy LaValle’s songwriter-featured work with The Album Leaf or early Yesterday Could Be Dramatic Mum (“Woods and Gives Away”). By the end, with a cover of the Lynch penned “In Heaven”, from Eraserhead, Kenniff rounds out an original work of beauty on par with his debut, Eingya—voice and all.
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// Notes from the Road
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