Stationary Travels, April 2016
San Francisco based musician Tim Arndt expands his catalog on the n5MD label this month with an album that is realization of a concept which has been gestating for nearly ten years. Apparently as far back as the period after the lush electronica of his 2006 debut Go Out and See was released, Arndt intended to create a beatless ambient follow-up, but that idea did not come to fruition until now with the release of Helical, his sixth release on the label. Helical definitely maintains a personal and intimate feel and sounds with the piano serving as the foundation of both composition and narrative with Arndt exercising discretion and restraint in the layering of the electronics so they always enhance rather than distract from the impetus to reflect. Especially ear catching are the richly embroidered “0402.1953”, the emotive Japanese flavored “Four”, and the shimmering “Reunion”. The skeletal piano core of the latter is beautifully exposed in an alternate version that comes as a bonus track, the other being a tastefully glitchy rework of “Under Water” which hints at the richness of the material as fodder for future remixes. This is an exceptional album that should manage to delight fans of both ambient and electronica and add even more luster to Arndt’s fine body of work.
[sic] Magazine, April 2016
I never expected to like Near The Parenthesis when first assigned some his music to review. I say ‘his’ as NTP is the recording guise of Tim Arndt, a San Francisco based composer. The information that came along with the promo suggested to me a straight, typical IDM artist, you know, all clever beats and glitches, music to ponder rather than actually enjoy. How wrong I was. Well, not totally. NTP does have clever beats and glitches. It is also beautiful. I didn’t like NTP. I loved it. I fell under its spell and have never missed a release since. On paper Helical should be even more me. I knew it would be intentionally downtempo and contemplative, imagining beats taking a backseat to melodies – perhaps layers of dreamy ambience. Again I was both right AND wide of the mark. In practice the lack of percussion here is a drawback for two reasons. Firstly it was part what blew me away first time around. Secondly it leaves this album as more or less an exercise in tonality. To be fair I had already expected this second aspect. Having read the press release I knew Helical was a deliberately ambient recording. I knew it was a concept album, such as instrumental albums can be concept albums (they can be, thematically) and I even knew the backstory. Arndthas been delving into his family history and his genealogical studies so far have unearthed some revelations. Helical was envisioned as the soundtrack to these discoveries. As such, I consider it a qualified success. NTP is at his best when piano scales fall like the pitter patter of raindrops. Helical has its share of such compositions, (‘Hand Off’ being a standout) punctuated by more contemplative drone and ambiance. Keys flicker, synth distortion rises like heat haze across a summer meadow. Strange to think of such naturalistic connections when the artist and artform concerned are so associated with tech. Yet that’s NTP in a nutshell – organic and deeply personal. Being essentially about genetics and ancestry, Helical has Arndt’s DNA all over it in more ways that just the usual. Yet it is also his most ‘Parentheses’ album to date – an understated aside, perhaps to be taken as a departure rather than a signal of things to come. Only this next album can answer this. We identify though. We’re a Parentheses kind of magazine.
etherReal, May 2016
Après être revenu, sur Cloud.Not Mountain, vers des rivages electronica qu’il avait pu parcourir par le passé, Near The Parenthesis reprend un projet qu’il avait échafaudé il y a une dizaine d’années : sortir un album plus proche de l’ambient, ou d’un post-rock alangui, dans lequel les instrumentations sont caressantes et les rythmiques absentes. Helical lui permet de concrétiser cette envie et de réaliser un convaincant long-format, bercé de tendres mélodies et de sonorités câlines. À ce titre, les partitions de guitare de 402.1953remplissent parfaitement leur office, douces et éthérées, idéalement relayées par l’enrobage mis en place par ailleurs par le musicien de San Francisco. Ne pouvant tout à fait renier le clavier qui lui avait servi de matrice sur plusieurs disques précédents (le morceau-titre, Discovery ou Four), Tim Arndt l’envisage naturellement au sein d’un environnement plus ambient que néo-classique, en l’entourant de textures et d’autres apports comme ces plages de synthé, ou bien ce qui ressemble à un mélodica, sachant travailler sur l’émotion. ﾉmotion que le clavier sait également très bien aller chercher, mais en restant dans une forme d’humilité assez bienvenue (Under Water ou Lyra), sauf peut-être sur Reunion, ultime morceau de l’album, probablement inutilement larmoyant par sa progression sonore d’arrière-plan mêlée à une ligne répétée de piano. Emballant quand il opère dans un registre post-rock électronisé, pertinent quand il adjoint des rythmiques, solide quand il se tourne vers le néo-classique, Near The Parenthesis démontre, ici, qu’il est tout aussi probant dans l’ambient.