Goldmund: Occasus (LP, Western Vinyl, April 2018)

It’s sort of hard to know what to say about a new Goldmund record. Delicate piano, close-miked recording by Taylor Dupree, ambient fuzz: check, check, check. It basically follows in the footsteps of 2015’s Sometimes, even down to the moody black-and-white cover art. (Of all the Goldmund albums I have, only 2011’s stunning guitar-based American Civil War album All Will Prosper breaks from that pattern.) I would say that this has some of his most heavily processed sounds to date (which again continues the pattern of the years), and I think the final track What Lasts, with its strings and woodwind and glockenspiel (?), is about the most fulsomely orchestrated… but these are things of fractions.

Absolutely none of which matters when the music sounds as wonderful as this. Honestly, if you get past the achingly tender As You Know (the 5th of 15 short tracks) without melting a little bit, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am. There’s melancholy here, and occasionally a sinister note, as on the gently rumbling No Story. But the feeling that remains after the last notes have faded away is one of calm.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Modern Classical / Ambient.

Goldmund: Sometimes (LP, Western Vinyl, December 2015)

This is Keith Kenniff’s first album as Goldmund since 2011’s Civil War song cycle All Will Prosper, although this harks back more to 2010’s Famous Places. Which is to say that these are short improvisations for solo piano (17 tracks here in 46 minutes), swathed (to a greater or lesser extent) in ambient swooshiness and backed very occasionally by a gentle guitar strum and recorded in that close-miked style which was all the range a few years back (I was half expecting to see Nils Frahm’s name in the credits, but in fact mastering was by Taylor Deupree) — and that they are intimate and delicate and lovely. Apparently, the tracks were recorded over the course of three years, often late at night after he’d been working as a session musician all day. It’s true that this sound isn’t exactly cutting edge in 2015, but it seems churlish to point that out when the music is as delightful as this. Also noteworthy is that one track, A Word I Give, is a collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, developed out of work they did for a charity project for victims of the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Modern Classical / Ambient.

Goldmund: All Will Prosper (CD, Western Vinyl, November 2011)

I’m a huge fan of Goldmund’s delicate and intimate piano compositions, but I was blown away by this, Keith Kenniff’s take on 14 songs from the American Civil War. Combining his trademark close-mic piano playing with an unfussy acoustic guitar picking, he makes these very much his own while bringing out the best of the originals. In their standard renditions, I find Amazing Grace off-puttingly melodramatic and The Yellow Rose Of Texas irksomely jaunty: here, the former has is honestly and affectingly uplifting, while the latter is really quite sweet. Better still are the heart-wrenching Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier and the quietly catchy Who’ll Save The Left… it’s hard to pick out favourites here, and I’m running out of adjectives. Suffice it to say that you’d have to be a much bigger cynic than I am to come away from this without a little bit of a lump in your throat.

I was bought this from Boomkat. They call it Home Listening / Modern Classical / Ambient.

Goldmund: Famous Places (CD, Western Vinyl, August 2010)

Earlier this year, I discovered and was charmed by Goldmund’s 2008 release The Malady Of Excellence. I am equally taken with this year’s follow-up. Like its predecessor, Famous Places is dominated by the piano, recorded with wonderful intimacy by Goldmund (aka Keith Kenniff) himself. However, this has more other instruments and electronic effects than I remember hearing on TMOE. These are never intrusive, though, the additional layers are gossamer-thin and only enhance the effectiveness of these highly atmospheric compositions.

I bought this from Boomkat. They describe it as Home Listening / Modern Classical / Ambient.