This album, the fourth from Keith Kenniff’s Golmund moniker, has been out for a little bit, but I’ve taken considerable time to sit with it; get to know it.
The phrasing is unmistakably Kenniff’s, stilted and hesitant, yet flowing and contemplative. The atmospherics are the well-worn vestiges of his Helios project. These are the creature comforts we’ve come to expect from a Goldmund record. Yet, it doesn’t feel as comfortable as, say, The Malady of Elegance. The melodies have retreated from their once passionate affair with the ghost of Erik Satie and here, on Famous Places, feel as if wandering through a familiar forest on an erased memory. I guess, it feels a bit less engaged and almost as if a touch more on auto-pilot. I’m not saying Famous Places is a soulless album, but songs like “Dane Street” lack the veracity of melancholy or the tenacity of previous releases. Sure, “Dane Street” has the most pronounced inclusion of the close-mic’ed hammers striking the wires in the body of the piano, which I’ve come to love about Kenniff’s style, but it just falls flat. It’s also disconcerting that this recording approach seems to be altogether abandoned on a few tracks. One need go no further than the opener, “Alberta”, for proof.
However, “Alberta”, does give us a splendid new angle in production and effects processing of Kenniff’s piano. A very worm like delay effect trails off the attack of the notes like comet tails. And despite my pontificating to the opposite, “Fort McClary” does provide temporal lobes (part of the brain concerned with processing sound) with a melodic approach that has some real heft and raises disappointed arms to the heavens.
Overall, I wouldn’t kick this album out of bed for eating cookies, but I might prefer it’s older sister on any given night instead.