DAVID HELPLING: IN (2022)
“An album as powerful as musical that did me a lot of good in another texture than purely electronic”
1 Waves Dream of Breaking 7:32
2 This Burning Sky 7:20
3 Only What's Been Taken 6:26
4 Here all Along 6:25
5 Still as Stone 6:12
6 The Bliss You've Always Carried 8:01
7 Slipping 8:01
8 The Cold Distance Between 5:56
9 You Already Are 6:42
10 Following the Lines 5:30
11 Bending Towards the Night 8:21
12 In Waves of Fire 5:50
13 I Too Am Coming Home 6:44
(2CD/2LP/DDL 90:00) (V.F.)
(Post synth waves, New Age, Cinematic)
It is by a breeze sweeping the green spaces that begins Waves Dream of Breaking. A note of bass falls and makes irradiate the secret voices and these synth lines having a discreet metallic squeaking of an azure tone. Tones which remain discrete in the soundscapes of IN where tinkle also these chords of electric piano of which the tonality one cannot help linking with that of the universe of Patrick O'Hearn. Buzzing, the breezes transport us to the first rhythmic jolts with bass-sequences and clan percussions where twirl these ambient harmonies of a guitar which scatters its riffs well. Fractured, the rhythm hesitates between ambient phases and a vision more supported by a good texture of percussions and a pulsating percussion line. The metallic echo effects of these percussions add an emotional weight to a musical envelope that intensifies as Waves Dream of Breaking crumbles its minutes. It's at the foot of the 4th that David Helpling frees the sequencer into a circular rhythmic tornado brilliantly lifted by an excellent percussion playing, bringing the music into a powerful envelope where the threads of a progressive and melodic New Age mingle with the electronic beats of a Berlin School vision. And no, Waves Dream of Breaking is not an isolated track in this marvelous IN that has just come out of Howard Givens studios who has just mixed and mastered a fascinating and intense album for the Spotted Peccary label. This new album by the Californian guitarist exposes nearly 90 minutes of acoustic-electronic music that mixes its wild rhythms with lunar ballads and where chills, if not tears, are born in the recesses of an intense, dramatic and poignant music. Helpling has invited seasoned musicians to play instruments with uncommon range on this album which the American label is offering on double-vinyl, CD and download.
The elements that made Waves Dream of Breaking so beautiful are also found in the other 81 minutes of IN. And there's no denying the resemblance to O'Hearn's music, as the ambient guitar chords and glassy arpeggios in the opening of This Burning Sky take us back to the lands of the 1991 album Indigo, specifically for the splendid Sacred Heart. Leaving behind the charms of an ethereal introduction, the track embraces the vision of a good electronic pop/rock tinged with a contemporary revival where the female singer Nidhi Bhatmuley offers a dazzling performance that is not without recalling the great vocal moments of Enigma or Lisa Gerrard. Moreover, the list of guests in this album, prepared over a distance of 2 years, increases the intensity of its depth, without forgetting the curiosity of our ears. It is a sparkling string of shimmering arpeggios that initiates Only What's Been Taken and its piano leaving its notes in a mist born of melancholy. The rhythm that emerges of it turns into a ballad well articulated by a texture of percussions mixing echo effects and incisive strikes on a circular structure regularly fractured by softer passages where the piano imitates the holding and the tonality of the one that gave us Ancient Dreams. Well balanced on its more than 6 minutes, Only What's Been Taken brings us towards a more emotional texture with this piano and orchestrations filled with shivers where are hiding some absent voice humming. The arrangements are very beautiful and this duality between the emotional threads is pure genius from Howard Givens. The acoustic guitar is the main ally of Here all Along, a post New Wave ambient ballad built on the same principle and the same texture as Only What's Been Taken, dominant guitar in addition. The same can be said of Still as Stone which starts like a nice lullaby whose crystalline tone of arpeggios swirling in guitar chords stuns the listening. And like the two previous tracks, its second part is more intense and emotional with a desire for a rhythm well-framed in its meditative phase. The Bliss You've Always Carried is a more acoustic track that features the Esraj, a fiddle from India with a Sitar neck attached to the oval body of the Sarangui. The texture sounds like a Chinese weeping violin. The instrumentalist Benjy Wertheimer caresses it with his bow with an incredible tenderness which joins the dreams of an acoustic guitar. The meeting of these 2 stringed instruments develops in a good slow music full of tenderness under a mist of nostalgia. A bass line and percussions clacking like teeth that bite sorrow plunge us in a superb slowtempo where the tinkling chords that you hear are the tears that I have just dropped back here. It's hard to be more emotional than on this track!
Another female singer with a divine voice, Miriam Stockley embraces with her elegiac murmurs Slipping, an enigmatic track that develops into a downtempo not too sure to leave its slower texture. The music remains anchored to a heavy resonant bass line and those percussions whose mythical metallic resonance adds a surreal dimension that suits well to this voice from another universe of Miriam Stockley. More electric, The Cold Distance Between is another slow track but heavy of its musicality whose emotive envelope of progressive New Age reaches a good level of musical intensity. It must be said that the arrangements, the poignant percussion crashes and the intense musical richness are elements that fill a listening room with impressive detail in the sounds. There is emotion and intensity at inch square in this The Cold Distance Between, creating a good dose of chills seeking, and finding, a nostalgic fiber to hatch. An intensity renewed on You Already Are and its slow seraphic opening dominated this time by the electric cello of Matthew Schoening. Following an emotional curve animated by chords tinkling like those of a xylophone, the music reaches a rhythmic phase articulated around the explosions of percussions in another texture fractured by short meditative phases. The opening of Following the Lines develops like that of Still as Stone, a lunar lullaby in a layer of dark violins. The texture sounds like a Chinese shadow in music where these electric piano chords are grafted, referring to David's use of the Yamaha CP70 on IN, on a structure that amplifies its measure to reach a heavy and melodious downtempo in its last third. The piano is very beautiful here! Bending Towards the Night mixes acoustic and electronic in a rich musical texture. It's another good downtempo guided by more sober percussions that drive the vivacity of the electric piano and the synth that unleashes its harmonies in invasive loops. In Waves of Fire should have been the finale of IN. It's a track that is initially driven by staccato effects from the orchestrations to be then carried away in a good electronic rock texture with percussions and synth waves rich in harmonies. As pointed out in the album synopsis, the texture, passion, intensity and energy, all elements well distributed in the 90 minutes of IN, form its apotheosis. Even if its finale is more ethereal. I Too Am Coming Home ends this new and excellent David Helpling album on a meditative note. The chords of the guitar, both acoustic and electric, and the piano linger like souls in no hurry to return home after an extraordinary adventure in the land of music. Miriam Stockley's voice, which is so divine, pushes those emotions back into our tears in a dramatic movie ending credit that led us so close to those same tears. An album as powerful as musical that did me a lot of good in another texture than purely electronic. Hats off to the Helpling and Givens tandem for such a moving and powerful album that remains extremely musical despite these lightning charges of explosive intensity!
Sylvain Lupari (April 15th, 2022) *****
Available at Spotted Peccary Music