Three months. That’s how long I’ve been dreaming. Sometimes, when you dream, you jolt awake. You’ve been falling. Sometimes you wake up, sometime in the early morning, and you can’t feel your arms. You slept on them. Sometimes you wake up, and you’ve no sense of place. No recollection of location. You’ve lost it. Times when sunlight is xenophobic, the paleness of its grimace seems alien, foreign, like a hypochondriac at rest. When the fleeting glance of a beautiful girl is as devouring and inexplicable as the rising shore – casted eyes, deep rhythms, a sense of weightlessness. A timeless ambiance, an escape, transference. The melodious, harmonic crashing of Helios.
Sometimes you wake up. You’re not sure why, but you do. You recognize it. Sometimes you pull off at the wrong exit. Sometimes, you write your lovers name down as your own, their name on the front of your mind. Sometimes, when thinking of her, I respond with “two please”, even when I’m alone. It doesn’t matter. I’m lost, placeless, evading my permeating reality. Escaping the weight of my own. This is the sound of Helios; an escape without a means, a constant reminder of her, of my own longing, of a love that pervades in me with every ounce of being.
Eingya is Helios’ sophomore album, but I’d like to start with this one. Perhaps his most respected, revered, and highly rated album, even. On the surface, this is one of those perfect elevator pieces, with its meandering acoustical melodies and soft, twinkly ambient overtones. Bird chirping samples would even suggest its own self-parodied pretention, what’s more obvious in a blissed-out ambient piece than birds? It’s precise in its execution, stringent, even static, in its deployment and structure. His flow is transparent when juxtaposed to other works in the genre, his melodies without excitation, exact in their prose and repetitious in their emotional lull. But Helios is not an exacting claim, nor an exclamation point, nor an impression on time, but rather a reflection of timelessness. What Helios does is provide the softness and methodical beauty of transient soundscapes – a divide, a soft lull, an incomprehensible tug towards something so very distant, so very trivial, delicately entwined in the rifts of time. For Years And Years and Bless This Morning Year are perhaps two of the most perfect ambient pieces composed on this album. Slow, nostalgic, deep churning melodies that drone on, but unlike Helios’ cousins in the ambient genre ( Nadja, for example ) they sputter in for only a fraction of a moment. These songs do not need to reach outwards towards the +20 minute mark. Their intent is not to immerse the listener in the textual reverb and flow of the sounds, but rather provide a foundation of nostalgia, of memory. To wander around an open-house. And like a good painting, like a perfect kiss, like the hum of your loves afterglow, stamps itself in everlasting memory.
Caesura is the third album released by Keith Kenniff under the Helios moniker. If anything, this is an extension of what Eingya is. His usage of kicks and electronic rhythms is more predominant, but his methodology is still moving in the same direction. Twinkly melodies, low drum notes, some kicks to path a track. It feels more like a composite piece than a dwindling rumination a la Eingya. Ideas are more obvious and figurehead the albums themes; elevator music for transnational elevators. Sounds and harmonies that complement sunsets over distant canopies; the nirvana of a touch, a soft gesture. A smile. His experimentation is incredibly welcomed and increases the replayability of the album, and, if anything, results in the greatest track on the album: A Mountain of Ice. A slow, harmonious build into a beautiful fragment of clean, plodding kicks with the slight whisper of melody. It heeds the call of his prior album; romanticizing with memory.
I don’t have much to say about Unomia, but I recommend giving it a listen after the aforementioned two. It’s good, but underdeveloped. His maturity in both composition and execution is young, and it lacks the finely tuned polish of his follow ups. As expected. It is still however an important album in Helios' growth as a sound, and nevertheless has some absolutely beautiful moments.
I want to express, once again, how fulfilling these albums are when taken as such. Music for warm summer nights when your friends are out and the house is empty and the sun is sinking just below the horizon. The phone might ring, but you won’t answer. Birds chirp outside a window somewhere, probably in a tree. Being birds. The swooshing pass of a car. The scream of children at play, chasing one another in the streets, dancing in and out of nightlight shadows. The distant kick of a pop can. A knock on the door that you don’t answer. But it’s okay. Because you’ve already forgotten all about that.