Boston- based multi Instrumentalist Keith Kenniff is a busy man. He has appeared as Helios on a number of acclaimed releases, including Deaf Center’s ‘Neon City EP’, and released a debut album ‘Unomia’ on Merck records which has appeared on many best of 2004 lists. All this while studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and playing drums, guitar or contributing production to a host of amazing musicicans. Kenniff lives and breathes music, something that is very obvious when hearing tracks under any of his pseudonyms.
As Goldmund, Kenniff has disregarded the electronic elements of his music almost entirely in favour of just a piano, a microphone and occasionally a guitar. ‘Corduroy Road’ is thirteen tracks of pure recording, the sound of the piano being opened and the feet on the pedals, the sound of fingers pressing lovingly onto the keys. This is a record of rare and unusual beauty, so shocking and yet unpretentious in its simplicity. When the guitar does emerge from beside the delicately touched piano, it serves as a balancing point for the record. Weaving in and out of the melodies, it adds another layer to what is already incredibly moving music.
‘Corduroy Road’ is rooted in Kenniff’s love of folk music from the American Civil War. We can hear this directly from his rendition of Civil War era classic ‘Marching Through Georgia’, but the influence carries throughout the record. There is an unheard voice which propels each track through history, maybe the ghosts of dying soldiers whispering in a long forgotten bar. Every haunting note drifts deep into the psyche and is lost in the ether of nostalgia. In this way it is a concept recording of sorts, it certainly has a narrative and has to be listened to in sequence. The story has clear themes; loss, history, friendship, camaraderie, forgiveness and hope, all clearly marked out by musical segments. It is no surprise that Kenniff’s passion for cinema shines through so strongly.
It would be hard to draw comparisons to music so rooted in folk traditions, but the music evokes traces of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mark Hollis, Keith Jarret or even Eno’s more piano based compositions. Yet influence seems unimportant when listening to this deeply personal work. Just let it sink in and drift into the psyche.