The Helio Sequence – Negotiations
Much of The Helio Sequence’s fifth album was reportedly born from improvisation, with many songs beginning life as one-minute sketches, and others formed entirely in a single take. In certain circumstances, improv can be a liberating working method – encouraging the kind of open-minded imagination that corporate-speak would have us all call ‘blue sky thinking.’ On Negotiations it appears to have had the opposite effect, causing the duo (singer/guitarist Brandon Summers and drummer/keyboardist Benjamin Weikel) to withdraw into conventionality, with largely tepid results.
Summers’ vocals are as irreproachable as ever, floating and soaring over reverb-heavy guitar lines, and it’s testament to the band’s proficiency that nothing stands out as particularly poor; the problem is that little stands out at all. But if this is the sound of a band creatively treading water, they make the pools in which they paddle sound pretty inviting, with glistening self-production making the most of their obvious talents.