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David Helpling — In
(Spotted Peccary SPM-0805, 2022, 2CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-04-26

In Cover art

With a dozen albums since his 1996 debut, Between Green and Blue, and classics like Treasure and The Crossing along the way (both collaborations with Jon Jenkins), Helpling has been working his way towards this magnum opus for many years. In fact In has been in the works for at least twelve years, and likely a lot longer, ideas hatched and set aside for arrangement at a later time, and when all the component parts were ready (thirteen compositions across two CDs), the album could be completed, and finally here it is. Helpling’s musical creations are at once powerful and enigmatic, like dreamy soundtracks from the deep, full of beautiful melodies and textures, and symphonic in every way, though one would be taking a leap to call this rock, or anything even close to it — it shares more in common with motion picture soundtracks. His instruments include analog and digital synthesizers, electric grand piano, ambient guitar, samplers, percussion, and surely some software instruments. On many of the tracks he’s working with guests offering cello, modular synths, drums, wordless vocals, and much more, track depending. “Slipping” is a gentle shimmering number packed with power, featuring multiple layers of vocals by Miriam Shockley, who also features on the closing number “I Too Am Coming Home.” Another vocalist, Nidhi Shatmuley, features prominently on the second track, “This Burning Sky,” along with drummer Matthew Stewart, who alse features on modular synths on the opening track “Waves Dream of Breaking.” According to Helpling, In is inspired by the vastness of small spaces, a macro view if you will, like looking at a very small world through a magnifying glass. “You Already Are” builds on a dense textural backdrop and subtle synth shimmers amid a curious mysticism of intertwining melodies and electric cello contribution from Matthew Schoening. Three of my personal favorites come at the end of disc one: “Here All Along” follows a strong melodic path as warm textures swim around the listener; with “Still as Stone” a gentle shower of bell sounds open the door for succeeding layers of ambient guitar as well as some spaces that hover gently like a cloud; finally, “The Bliss You’ve Always Carried” begins with a deep droning texture, and features some beautiful esraj (Indian stringed instrument) playing by Benjy Wertheimer (ex-Ancient Future, Shantala, and numerous solo and collaborative efforts), while Helpling creates atmospherics and melodies to counterpoint the esraj. In is an amazing album of rich sounds, beautiful melodies, and warm textural qualities that offer a dreamy sanctuary for the listener.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): David Helpling

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