The Time It Takes by GoldmundRelease date: October 16, 2020
Label: Western Vinyl
Every release from Pennsylvania native Keith Kenniff is an event. His body of work is incredibly gorgeous and moving, and this new release is no exception. It is mystical, sacred, and an intimate picture of Kenniff’s thought process. He creates evocative tone paintings, as any devoted listener knows. So much instrumental music leaves me cold, but like the band Hammock, Kenniff knows how to tug on those heartstrings. Especially in this day and age, when so much is rotten in the world.
Kenniff has been compared to composers such as Hauschka and Dustin O’Halloran, but those are only starting points for delving into his work. Kenniff also records under the name Helios and releases pop gems with his wife Hollie as Mint Julep. So much variety from this talented man! Kenniff employs minimal piano-based compositions, sometimes accompanied by string textures. His music creates a safe sonic space in these dark times, yet he is not afraid to face off with sorrow and other heavy emotions.
The opening track is ‘Day In, Day Out’ and I could not think of a more apt title for what we all experience in this pandemic. One day seeps into the next and often there is no differentiation in our experience. Yet, this song offers glimmers of hope. As does the follow on-track, the glorious ‘Forever’. Plaintive piano sprinkle the listener like drops of rain, and offer a balm to the frazzled mind. And then he adds what sounds like a church organ, but is probably a synthesizer. No matter, the effect on me is the same. It transports me from the humdrum of my daily existence. ‘Memory Itself’ builds slowly and also features the dazzling sonic wizardry of Christopher Tignor. ‘Of No Other’ seems to offer a recurring musical theme, a contemplative and quiet place to comfort oneself.
‘Abandon’ is just amazing. I adore the piano work here, and how I can hear the occasional creak of instrumentation. I also enjoy the way the music is layered here, starting off with the simplest tones and adding majesty before returning to minimalist end tones. ‘Pavane’ offers less hope at first, aided as it is by an unsettling synth line. But then Kenniff adds in this brilliant, open sky arrangement, and boy, does it transform this tune into something celestial.
‘For Old Times’ starts off as a fusty vignette, like a sepia-toned photo from a bygone age. The sonic hiss reminds me of listening to my Mom’s old records, but then the song blooms into much more, leaving behind pleasant memories and piercing through the veil of our current existence. ‘The One Who Stands By’ might refer to people who stand idly by and let bad things happen instead of helping others. Of course, I could be off base, but that is fine. Songs can be open to interpretation, which is the beauty of instrumental music. We all have unique experiences, and music, like other art, elicits individual responses.
‘The End’ appears in the middle of this song sequence, when you might expect it as the album’s coda. This to me is perfect soundtrack music, perhaps defining the end of a relationship. ‘Respite’ is tranquil, and I almost imagine hearing the far distance hiss of traffic on a highway. It is like when you go out to what should be a quiet place, but you never really escape the busyness of the world that surrounds you. ‘Rivulet’ has a watery effect, and even in extreme drought, I like to imagine a tiny body of water that seeps cleanly past me.
‘For A Time’ picks up the pace and is a joyful release after a long period of melancholy. ‘The Night’ resonates as a bit of a finale, the reward one gets when the sun sets and darkness sets in, obscuring us all for a time. Its somber tone is spot on. ‘The Valley In Between’ is the actual end here, and it does have a finality to it that is unmistakable. I love the grandeur and the way notes echo. It reminds me of gorgeous sacred music. Keith Kenniff has created another wonderful recording, and it’s one not to be missed!