The Helio Sequence

The Helio Sequence

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The Helio Sequence -- Brandon Summers on guitar and vocals and Benjamin Weikel on keyboards and percussion -- supposedly wrote and cut the basic tracks for their self-titled sixth album as part of a friendly contest in which they sought to see how many songs they could crank out in a month. One can certainly hear the spontaneity in 2015's The Helio Sequence, which features ten songs that are spare and sleek, boasting streamlined melodies and echoing guitars and clouds of keyboards that hover over Weikel's insistent rhythms as Summers sings with a measured force that suggests his raspy period is a thing of the past. Much of the time, The Helio Sequence sounds like an experiment in organic electronic pop, with the rigid drum patterns setting the pulse, keys establishing the melodies, and the rest of the instruments serving as texture, though the warmth of Summers' vocals takes some of the chill off tunes like "Battle Lines" and "Upward Mobility," and the duo's pop sensibilities shine through on "Inconsequential Ties" and "Seven Hours." Given that these ten songs were supposedly the cream of 26 tracks Summers and Weikel banged out in a month, it's hard not to wonder if this album might have benefitted from a little more work on the songwriting and a greater portion of stylistic range; while the songs work well enough, most of them resemble one another just a bit too much, and this project speaks of craft more than passion, full of shiny and polished surfaces that don't betray a great deal of human emotion. Summers and Weikel's talent and craft are all over The Helio Sequence, but this music is more than a bit short on inspiration, and the finished product sounds less like music they had a passion to create than something they were put up to -- which is just what they tell us it is.

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