David Helpling: Sleeping on the Edge of the World

hel-sotew.jpg (13k) David Helpling: Sleeping on the Edge of the World
(Spotted Peccary - 1999)

Musical elements of nighttime, dreaming and otherworldiness are all part of Sleeping on the Edge of the World. Self-taught multi-instumentalist David Helpling shapes his soundforms into smoothly twisting panoramas topped with keyboard explorations which may seem rather new-agey to some. Beneath the obvious (though always beautifully rendered) piano presence, Helpling lays down some interestingly amorphous ambient textures and subtle beats.

When Rain Falls, lush clouds whirl to be embellished by gentle urban-tribal percussion and symphonic rays, fading quietly away. Shapeless and safe, warm gusts and faint electronic rhythms stir while Sleeping on the Edge of the World (4:11); soon, rolling piano notes cascade across the nightscape. The urbane synth and piano atmospheres of Deepest Days receive an additional pump-me-up from perkier beats and a dance-floor-ready bassline... a sophisticated booty-shaker?

Divine Whisper almost slips off into a new age territory, but is saved by the beauty of its dreamily hazy backdrop. Free-floating guitar strands and rolling sonic haze are part of Sticks and Stones; no fear of broken bones here, just fluffy musical phrasings and sparse beats like faraway thunder. Long flowing tones become Moon Dreaming Thunder, another blend of airy keyboarding and lightly applied neo-primitive drumming.

The speedier guitar riff and pattering cymbals of Soul of a Child merge incongruously with dense, semi-spooky synthwash and chiming ivories, but is all the more interesting for being so. A richly layered bed of synth strata is sprinkled with occasional resonant notes and just a hint of vocal haze in All Things End (6:13). Hushedly booming beats, shimmering curtains of sound and deep, flowing tones lead the listener Deeper Still, accompanied by quietly clattering ethno-accents and subterranean hisses and echoes.

Nocturnal travels into the Shadows of Far Night are led by swiftly moving passages through cloudy, darkened atmospheres. Muted cycling chimes open Promise to be backed by luxuriously sweeping strings. Piano notes join and loop through a repeated phrase over a subtly changing background, all of which suddenly fades into light.

While this release may not be "challenging" enough for some listeners, seekers of audio serenity will discover a twilight haven wrapped in the beautiful sounds within. David Helpling's previous release Between Green and Blue (overviewed this month) was nominated for an INDIE award in 1997. For my ears, Sleeping on the Edge of the World takes several steps beyond that release and bodes well for his artistic future. AmbiEntrance-rated at 8.2. 8-2.gif
This review posted September 29, 1999

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