Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All Will Prosper - Goldmund

All Will Prosper

Unseen Music.

SCQ Rating: 77%

No matter how you prefer to see Keith Kenniff – as the young beat-maker behind Helios’ soundscapes or as post-classical’s rising star Goldmund – the emergence of All Will Prosper doesn’t quite gel. For one thing, this collection of Civil War standards fits neither guise, gravitating closer to Goldmund’s catalog, I suppose, because of its more traditional approach. And secondly, what purist of electronic music or modern classical really wants to hear another take of ‘Amazing Grace’?

As it turns out, I do. Many of these songs bare familiar melodies – some of which we unknowingly riffed upon as children – but, like Christmas songs, it’s easy to let them drift in one ear and out the other. Kenniff doesn’t try to modernize or stamp his mark on tracks like ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ or ‘The Death of General Wolfe’; in fact, one couldn’t even label Goldmund’s versions as interpretations. With his appropriately folk-y arsenal, Kenniff lets these timeless songs breathe as they naturally evolved over decades, using a humble mix of guitar and piano.

And maybe it’s because Kenniff doesn’t shy away from the stateliness of these songs that All Will Prosper sounds right at home in the heart of December. Just as it’s easy to tear down Christmas songs as consumerist nonsense, it’s effortless to turn down a set of heavily traditional war-tunes. But their ubiquity has been earned for a reason; these are songs nearly capable of performing themselves and, fittingly, Kenniff’s authorship decidedly takes the backseat. A touch of Helios shimmer permeates the cresting piano of ‘The Ballad Of Barbara Allen’ and twinkles like stardust overtop ‘Shenandoah’ but all for the benefit of the composition and history Kenniff adores so much.

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