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Album Review

Those who mistake ambient music for an endless tapestry of unwavering atmosphere, pleasant yet indistinguishable, should be handed as an argument to the contrary this CD by a recent signee to Merck's rapidly expanding roster. Through 13 tracks of inarguably pretty music, Keith Kennif displays the musical equivalent of a genius screen actor, able to send a million moods and messages with the most subtle of facial gestures. The opening pair of songs, "Velius" and "Cullin Hill," point to a blissful treat which sits on just the right side of new age symmetry (particularly given the former's live glistening piano treatment). But only eight beats into "Nine Black Alps," the sensation is irreversibly altered by a single, mournful bass note which rumbles like Hades against the bucolic tone that lead up to it. Unshackled, Kennif continues to roam, drifting into circular beats on "Two Mark" before wandering off into weightless asphyxiation on "Samsara." He even allows for the organic sound of faint acoustic guitar and piano to join his endless travels on "Light House," giving a moment of real world clarity at the eye of this hallucinogenic work. Few could get away with a singular ghostly voice transmission without implying a stretch for ideas, but by the time he reaches the ninth song, "Suns That Circling Go," Kennif is so recognized as an explorer that you cannot be surprised by where he may arrive next.

Customer Reviews


Mixing the sounds of piano and acoustic guitar with the lush drones of synthesizers and ambient noise, Unomia takes listeners on an ambient journey of layered textures. Some of my favorite pieces by Helios are his more natural pieces, such as West Orange and Buldir, both of which employ the aforementioned use of piano with some minimal use of ambient sounds, like falling rain in the latter. Lighthouse envokes visions of a middle-eastern sunset using guitar, piano, and some backwards masked synths. Some of the timbres on this album are a little jarring, so I wouldn't say this would be the best album to fall asleep to, but it's definitely one that stimulates the imagination.


This was one of the first ambient records I ever heard. Helios, or Keith Keniff (who also records under the name Goldmund), is one of IDM and ambient's young and fresh talents. Although he comes from the web of IDM spun by Boards of Canada, Helios is a totally unique entity. This album, his debut, is in my opinion his most ambient, as well as his best. Recommended for anyone in need of a good, ambient album that does more than color the background.

breathe in breathe out

calm sea, inner peace


Born: Massachusetts

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Boston-based ambient indie electronic artist Helios is Keith Kenniff, a Berklee College of Music student who has also gone under the moniker Goldmund. As Helios, his recordings include Unomia (2004), Eingya (2006), and in September 2007 a mini-album that for the first time featured Kenniff's fragile...
Full Bio
Unomia, Helios
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Customer Ratings