Release Date 11/13/2015
(Western Vinyl) CMJ
Raised in the rural town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Keith Kenniff aka Goldmund started playing piano at age 20, while studying percussion at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Though he may not be a household name, Kenniff's evocative, distinctly American music has become quietly ubiquitous in the past few years, often appearing on NPR, in films, on TV, and in ads for Apple, Facebook, and Google among others. As an artist who spends a great deal of his time producing music for others, it might be surprising to find out that when he has the opportunity to relax and re-center himself, he often chooses to produce music for himself. Recorded over the course of three years, the material on his new album Sometimes functions as a journal, documenting brief moments in Kenniff's day when he could turn to the piano as a source of solace and unending creative possibilities. Kenniff wrote and recorded everything on the album with the exception of the track "A Word I Give", which is a collaboration with preeminent Japanese pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, who once described Goldmund's music as “…so, so, so beautiful…”.
Kenniff's pseudonym is taken from the Herman Hesse novel Narcissus and Goldmund in which the Goldmund character leaves the cloister where he was living and studying in search of meaning for his life. The story resonated with Kenniff when he was searching for a moniker to represent his solo piano work, "I think the way I approached the piano was in the same way: impulsive—searching and feeling things out in the dark." On Sometimes he continues his explorations in the dark; each of the album's 17 pieces were improvised, and recorded in one or two takes, often late at night, after work-for-hire was finished, and the kids were in bed. In an interview with NPR's Weekend Edition, Kenniff discussed his appreciation of Civil War era music, and it's ability to covey "…so much story in so few notes." Similarly, these improvisations manage to be richly evocative despite their technical and compositional simplicity, using subtle details and dynamics to express what might otherwise be inexpressible.
Throughout Sometimes, Kenniff fully employs the wabi-sabi aesthetic that has always defined Goldmund recordings. "I like mistakes, I like when things don't go perfectly. I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice," says Kenniff. He goes on to explain that these pieces served as a way for him to "step outside of whatever I was doing and return back to a place of discovery very much like when I first started playing." As we follow him on his path of discovery, we get a glimpse into the world of a young man expressing his myriad feelings and experiences with honesty, and inherently imperfect gestures, which is part of what makes them so relatable and powerful — the local, for a few moments, resonating with the universal.