I can see (or should I say ‘hear’) why everyone is so excited by the latest release from Spotted Peccary artist David Helpling, Sleeping on the Edge of the World. It's an outstanding recording. Blending the moodiness of semi-dark ambient with rich melodic warmth and unique rhythms, Helpling walks along a path of beauty tinged with sadness, pain with pleasure, light with dark, and fear with joy. Sound like hyperbole to you? I don't blame you. But, even after just one listen to this CD, I was convinced it was a breakthrough release. There can be no denying that there are elements of Patrick O'Hearn's work (e.g. the music on his release Metaphor) scattered throughout Sleeping... But, so what? Being influenced by someone is the very nature of art, especially music. For my money, David Helpling's relationship to Patrick O'Hearn is that of two artists who have discovered the same well-spring of inspiration, but both head in different directions (sometimes dramatically different ones). David's music is often denser, suffused with background textures that flirt with the listener's consciousness - just enough to be noticed and then, like Kaiser Soze, ‘poof’ they vanish. This mastery of the subtle nuance is what separates an album like Sleeping... from the pack. (One of David's Spotted Peccary labelmates, John Flomer, has the same talent). Want an example?
Listen very closely to the title cut from Sleeping... You'll hear the main melody line, the kinetic background rhythms, and maybe even the recurring piano theme in the deep background. But underneath all that is more still. Those ‘other’ melody lines contribute to a three-dimensional element of the music. As with all the best recordings from this label, finding favorite cuts seems superfluous.
There is the wonderfully rhythmic ‘Deepest Days,’ the melancholic guitar-driven ‘Sticks and Stones’ or the somber and reflective ‘All Things End.’ But, hell, I don't mean to single any one song out.
This is, simply, a killer CD. Shall I tell you how killer? When I couldn't find it for about a week, I freaked (ask Kathryn about that!). Of course, it also goes without saying (which is why I will say it) that engineering and production is flawless, as is the cover art (what every space and ambient label around wouldn't give to have a Greg Klamt in the house, huh?). My hat is off to David Helpling and, of course, to the man behind this label, Howard Givens. With the release of this CD and Flomer's Night In The Vapor Jungle the label has outdone itself. I'll admit I was concerned one or two years back about the ambient direction in which Spotted Peccary was headed. But, it appears that my fears were unwarranted. Spotted Peccary is still the home of the best American electronic music as near as I can tell. Sleeping on the Edge of the World is proof of that, for sure.
- Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire