Boomkat Product Review:
The second, and highly anticipated album from Keith Kenniff under his Goldmund guise follows the artist's recent stint of releases as Helios, and finds him returning to the beautifully economical and organic sound world offered up by solo piano music. As with Peter Broderick's recent solo piano musings on his Docile mini LP, this isn't the work of an extravagant virtuoso, but rather a composer plotting routes, and finding narratives between the key strokes, slowly meditatively creating an air of understated melancholy and atmosphere. From the very beginnings of the introductory composition 'Image-Autumn-Womb' you'll be sucked into this sound world on the basis of its incredible intimacy - thanks to the detailed recording style it all sounds so very close up. Not only can you hear the notes themselves, but the depression of the actual keys, and you really feel like you're caught up in the mechanics of the instrument. Many of the pieces here are suggestive of the warmth and graceful ambience of Harold Budd ('Subtle The Sum' being one such example), but when it's most necessary very clearly defined melodies rise from the revereberant mists. 'The Winter Of 1539-1540' would be one such instant, although the significance of the dates cited remains unclear (I've just checked Wikipedia for an inventory of notable events during the time, and unless you were thinking of marrying Henry VIII there doesn't seem to be much going on). Something slightly more timbrally sophisticated and layered crops up during 'The Gardener', which represents one of the few instances on the album that seems to deviate from the lone pianist format. Another is the excellent 'Mound Builders' which embraces a more modernist approach to harmony with some Feldman-esque intervals, as filtered through the sort of sounds Kenneth Kirschner laid down for his post_piano work with Taylor Deupree. Over the course of much of this album Kenniff's music has a weightless, free-time quality that finds it floating by in a stately, unhurried fashion, but when he does knuckle down to something a little more structurally intensive - as on the magnificent closing piece 'Evelyn' - it has all the more impact. A perfect successor to Corduroy Road, The Malady Of Elegance is every bit the album Goldmund fans would have hoped for, and another quiet triumph for the Type label in 2008. Essential Purchase.