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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari


Updated: Apr 15, 2022

If we like Steve Roach's music, there is no reason not to like David Helping's since the ambient music visions are similar

1 Free Dive 7:25

2 Glass 10:06

3 Ascension of the Whales 5:37

4 The Black Rock 8:58

5 Be 6:00

6 Under Shallow Seas 10:02

7 Isle in Half Light 8:44

8 The Heart of Us 11:00

(CD/DDL/SPOTIFY 67:56) (V.F.)

(Ambient, Progressive New Age)

David Helpling on Synth & !? Little or no synth and especially no sequencer? Guitars! Lots of layers and guitar lines that fill the vibes such as the synths, to the point of confusing them. And why not! A musician who pours his layers of morphic guitars into panoramas of atmospheres as esoteric as Steve Roach's has his place here. In addition, I have a huge respect for Howard Givens whose mastering work is very effective on this album inspired by water, by oceans. The strange shape of a 1 back to front, on the artwork is drawn from the runic alphabet of the ancient Germanic peoples and means lagoon. Basically, it's a peaceful album where you should not look for percussions and even less for sequenced rhythms, and of which the only moments of impulses and of dramatic visions arise from a bass line.

It's with discreet riffs that come from afar that Free Drive begins RUNE. The way of crumbling these circular riffs reminds me of The Edge (U2), except that they are layers of very ethereal guitars that attach to these riffs instead of a nervous rhythm, a rock anthem. Guitar notes haunt this ambient movement and melt with an effective bass line that pushes the music into a floating rhythm. The signature of the Californian musician is made up of several layers of guitars, forming a panorama of ambient vibes as much effective than a wall of synth pads, from which springs a beautiful line of evasive melody like around the 4 minutes. I found it very good. Glass is a quieter title. We find essentially the same structures that allowed Free Drive to bloom, but in a clearly more melancholic vision. We even feel an atmosphere of sadness enveloped in this track where the guitar textures melt into a horizon where our eyes lose their senses. There is a good duel between an acoustic six-strings and an electric guitar on this track which wraps the arms of Morpheus. If we close our eyes and connect our brain to a ballet of whales, Ascension of the Whales can easily help us forge these images with a rather dreamlike vision. David Helpling's evasive guitar sculpts these irresistible songs that float on a cloud of intertwined strata and chords that slide comfortably in the furrows of whales. The murmurs of the bass cast a veil of dramatic intensity on The Black Rock. Passing from a seraphic vision to an implosive anger, it's another very floating title with bits of ambient melodies which come and go without ever getting attached. The ambiences are woven by clusters of guitar lines in a darker musical landscape here than elsewhere on the album, except for the massive Under Shallow Seas.

Be offers us a rhythm woven into the riffs of a harmonious guitar where these multilayered ethereal lines always float and moan. It's the most lively title of this album, followed closely by Free Drive. Besides, these two titles could finely bind one to the other. Under Shallow Seas is the title I love the most in RUNE. Proposed in a rather dark vision, the texture of ambiences is knotted between the layers of guitar and the mists of hot water fighting against the coldness of the nights to which are added a guitar and its weeping lamentations as well as the dramatic effect of a bass line. Everything is done gently and evolves softly in order to reach a point of implosion which has its effect on our skin. Intense and dramatic, we literally float in this sibylline envelope. Less dark and more musically intense, Isle in Half Light is built around the same principles, while The Heart of Us offers a slightly more cosmic opening. Quietly, atmospheres and music come together in a more concrete impulse here than elsewhere in this album. The meeting point between this intensity and the explosion of atmospheres is reached between the 5th and 6th minute, thus turning the waking dreamer towards this phase of serenity which is the port of RUNE and of its music as mystical as mysterious.

My first listening of this music left me of ice. It is by reading and letting my skin relax under the sun of the warm Atlantic Ocean that I connected with this album by David Helpling. I placed it in my iPod, night music section. If we like Steve Roach's music, there is no reason not to like David Helpling's, at least in RUNE, since the ambient music visions are similar. Only the texture, I would say more accessible here, is different. Progressive New Age as I like it!

Sylvain Lupari (February 15th, 2020) ****¼*

Available at Spotted Peccary Bandcamp

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