Keith Kenniff is best known for his ambient electronic project Helios, but that’s just one aspect of this multifaceted artist. In addition to husband and wife dream pop duo Mint Julep, Kenniff also records under the name Goldmund. All Will Prosper, the fifth and latest album from Goldmund, consists primarily of traditional folk songs popular during the Civil War era presented as stripped-down, instrumental pieces.
What happens when a traditional hymn famous for its uplifting lyrics, such as “Amazing Grace”, is stripped of its vocals in favor of a piano plus acoustic guitar arrangement? On All Will Prosper, it’s a reinterpretation that calls attention to its simple melody to completely mournful effect, with nary a hint of triumph. Despite being composed over 100 years after the Civil War, “Asoken Farewell” blends in seamlessly with Revolutionary War numbers like “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier”.
What Goldmund creates on All Will Prosper through the medium of minimalism is an emotional time machine. Rather than replicating the sounds of the days of saloons and bloodletting, the record intimately delivers a score to a mood that is scattered across documentaries, diaries, and history books. Although Kenniff’s minimalist approach does succeed in showcasing the understated beauty behind the originals, the novel concept behind All Will Prosper becomes just that as the arrangements begin to blend without more re-interpretive guidance.
While it’s clear that the album is a true labor of love for Kenniff, its 15 tracks are an exercise in patience despite lasting only 33 minutes. If the question is, “Why record an instrumental album of Civil War-era hymns?”, then All Will Prosper is for those that would respond, “Why not?”
Essential Tracks: “Amazing Grace”, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”