The summer of 2010 won't be remembered for many great movies, but David Helpling and Jon Jenkins have brought us a great soundtrack. It’s just that movie will be in your imagination. Mixing keyboards, guitars and programming, their latest CD, The Crossing states its cinematic theme from the start. The sound emerges out of a long silence, with a slow motion reveal like you would see in an Imax nature film as the camera slowly widens while zooming in on a desert landscape or out into a starfield. That's the sound of "Awake," the opening track from The Crossing.
From there, Helpling and Jenkins take you on a 70 minute trip of interlaced delayed guitar melodies, ringing keyboards, and dramatic percussion flourishes. Like their previous studio album, Treasure, our Echoes CD of the Month in July 2007, The Crossing is unremittingly pretty, bathing itself in electronic orchestral colors. It manages to remain outside both the mainstream and avant-garde of contemporary electronic music. There's no hip-hop rhythms, glitched sounds or fractured digital strategies here. Instead, there's almost a nostalgic future-is -now sheen to their work which luxuriates in deep textures, rich, full-bodied timbres and major key melodies to the beyond.
Timbrally, melodically and rhythmically, the shadow of Patrick O'Hearn drapes their work. You can hear it in the suspended keyboard chords hanging in deep reverb on tracks like "The Same Sky" and the rhythmic trot of "Two Paths." The title track is a caravan journey traversing an endless sky of distant keyboards, time-stepping percussion and slow guitar arpeggios drenched in reverb until Helpling laces a beautifully constructed guitar solo that twists and pivots on the crescendo. Then there’s "For the Fallen," a slo-mo journey that's more reverb than actual instrumental sound, recalling Steve Roach's most ambient dreamscapes until a now patented Helpling-Jenkins keyboard cycle filters in as the clouds of reverb part.
You can't help but be swept up in the cinematic expanse of The Crossing, which ends on a dynamic note of roaring synth orchestrations, tribal drums and another of Helpling's screaming guitar solos on "Lifted." The Crossing would be a perfect soundtrack to a film deserving music of such epic scope. For now, it'll have to be the movie in your head.
- John Diliberto, Echoes CD of the Month