A download-only release
Includes 14-page digital .pdf booklet
A Sea Without Memory
$9 – $16
A download-only release
About A Sea Without Memory
A Sea Without Memory is David Helpling’s first ever solo ambient guitar album. The music, created live using only electric guitar and a series of custom programmed effects processors, is the culmination of the signature ambient guitar sound he has been refining throughout his entire career.
The project began in late 2016 when, while at work on his next solo release, Helpling set aside some time to create and share weekly ambient guitar improvisations in a YouTube series he called Sunday Loops. Pure, deeply personal and heartfelt, these short, single-take vignettes have been shared with the world almost every Sunday night for nearly a full year. The response to these ambient guitar explorations has been overwhelming, and there have been many requests to release them as an official album.
However, rather than simply compiling the Sunday Loops and releasing them as a collection of stand alone tracks, there was a desire to craft a unique experience from a careful selection of the material and tell a more expansive story, so David’s friend and long time collaborator Jon Jenkins began to blend the tracks together, combining the original pieces into meaningful longer passages, and at that point the vision became clear. “After hearing what Jon had in mind for the direction of this release, I was inspired and intrigued,” David explains. “I started hearing everything as if for the first time. The story was all there, and it felt like a complete album.”
With the Sunday Loops at its core, this new release was born from a desire to step out of a comfort zone and create music without forethought or scripting. The creative process was additionally inspired by the visual images of Shawn Malone, many of which are found in the accompanying digital booklet. Helpling would imagine cold and solitary places while letting the music flow and unfold…like an aural time-lapse composition.
Helpling’s textural guitar soundscapes have become a definitive sound and something woven throughout almost all of his music, but not since the track “Loss Of Words” from his 1996 debut Between Green And Blue, has he created and released ambient guitar music as a solo presentation. “Hearing the sounds that are so personal and important to me in a fully focused long form listening experience is so powerful and exciting,” he comments. “In most of my work, ambient guitar is just one layer of many, so to have it stand alone and bring a compelling experience to the listener is a big deal. This may be the purest form of music I have ever created.”
A Sea Without Memory is a sharing, a story in watercolor told through the deep and textured hues of ambient guitar. Melancholy, shimmering and wondrous, this experience is not a journey, but rather an unfolding of events that approach, surround, then move beyond the listener, delivering a constant flow of dreamlike moments that slowly dissolve into the next wave of sound.
Be still in the space, and let A Sea Without Memory slowly color your world.
A Sea Without Memory is an album that David created using just one guitar through some programmed pedals and recorded live to 2-track with very little processing. I know this because I asked David to confirm that it was just his guitar that I was hearing on these amazing and very expansive sounding tracks that make up the new album. And now even knowing it is just one guitar only increases my respect for what David has managed to create and record onto 2-tracks with little post processing. If you haven’t figured it out yet this is going to be a positive review of David’s new release and I hope that I haven’t given you a spoiler for the review without alerting you first.
A Sea Without Memory consists of 5 tracks with the shortest at 4:11 and the longest at 21:10 but most are over 10 minutes in length. What I love about songs like these is that their length makes them very immersive compositions and allows David to build moods and feelings over an extended period of time so that the listener can be enveloped by his rich and atmospheric soundscapes.
The overall feeling that these songs engender is that of tranquility and a peace that comes when a person allows themselves to block out everything that competes for their attention so that they can focus on what is internal rather than what is external. The songs on this album have a calming effect as they gently wash over you leaving the listener suspended in what feels like a dream but more lucid, more aware of how the ebbs and flows relate to who you are as an individual.
All the tracks on this album are exceptional pieces of music so saying that any one of them is my favorite track is next to impossible. Besides the album lives and breathes as a single organism so pulling a track of it out and examining it separately from the whole really does not yield an understanding of how the album as a whole flows or how that one track fits into the whole. So I won’t be doing that in this review. Suffice it to say that A Sea Without Memory for me stands as a whole composition not as individual tracks. David’s music does evoke natural images in my mind as I listen to the flow of this album like waves lapping on a beach somewhere or watching the sunrise or the sunset or even like the northern lights as depicted on the cover of this album. Perhaps that was David’s intention or perhaps it is my own inclination to associate some of the music that I enjoy the most with the natural world that surrounds me. The joy of art whether it is musical or visual is that the ultimate judge of what it means is each individual that is exposed to that art and how it makes them feel.
A Sea Without Memory shows forth the talent and the artistry of David Helpling and his dedication to making the best art that he possibly can. His guitar playing is always heartfelt and confident as he allows the music to flow from his inner spirit, into his guitar and then out again to be recorded for the rest of the world to hear and be amazed at. David is a consummate artist when he picks up his guitar and the memorable tracks on this album are simply further proof that he is an innovative musician with an understanding of where he has been and an eye on the future and where he wants his music to go. I find the music on this album to be very thoughtful and very moving and it certainly does not disappoint in regards to what David’s fans hope to find on one of his albums. Ambient Visions highly recommends this album. Enjoy! - Michael Foster, Ambient Visions
What I got here is a typical album of US textural guitar soundscape music using only electric guitar along a range of custom programmed effects processors to achieve an overall drifting outcome. The latter was constructed from a series of short single-take ambient guitar improvisations (Sunday Loops, started late 2016) that have been transformed into a long form listening experience with a narrative perspective by David’s friend and long time collaborator Jon Jenkins.
Well, the 67-minute "A Sea Without Memory" paints a cinematic world of tranquil, floating, cold and solitary places along introspective atmospheres all breathing expansiveness through an array of pastel colors. Simultaneously, the most relaxed ambiences found on the four lengthy pieces and one short track also address the effortless, weightless sense as found in space music.
It also makes me concur with the label description this is not a journey but rather an unfolding of events that approach, surround, then move beyond the listener, delivering a constant flow of dreamlike moments that slowly dissolve into the next wave of sound. Grab a wave, drift off and immerse!- Bert Strolenberg, SonicImmersion.org