8 Songs, 1 Hour 7 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

BT Fasmer ,

A mesmerizing view into a mighty yet fragile universe

We are becoming increasingly aware of how important the oceans are to our planet. Not a day goes by without headlines about the state of the seas and how marine pollution affects people all over the world. David Helpling’s new album “RUNE” takes the listener on an epic journey, deep into the mythical world of the Norse rune Laguz. Guided by ancient wisdom and Helpling’s brilliant ambient guitar, we get more profound respect for the oceans. “RUNE” is, in short, a mesmerizing view into a mighty yet fragile universe.

David Helpling is a California based guitarist and keyboardist, recording artist and film composer. He debuted in 1996 with “Between Green and Blue“ followed in 1999 by “Sleeping on the Edge of the World”. Beginning in 2001, Helpling released a trilogy of albums (“Treasure“, “The Crossing“, and “Found“), collaborating with fellow ambient recording artist Jon Jenkins. In 2017 David released the ambient guitar album “A Sea Without Memory“.

The intro to “RUNE” is breathtakingly beautiful; “Free Dive” takes the listener right into the deep end. Helpling uses less than two minutes to introduce us to this strange, alien world. His ambient electric guitar is our diving instructor, assuring us that it is safe to go even deeper. It is an immersive listening experience, much thanks to the rich reverb. I like the structure of the melody, how the fragments all come together in the end – like drops of water forming an ocean.

The next piece is called “Glass”. It is 10 minutes long, but trust me; you’ll hardly notice that time goes by. The song is from start to finish a genuine tour de force. Notice the atmosphere; it is cozy and comforting. But there’s a hint of melancholy too, an undefinable sadness right under the surface. It is tempting to compare it to colored glass; you can see through, yet everything will have a particular color.

I’m happy to report that there are no sounds of nature on “RUNE”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with washing waves or dolphins chirping, but it has been done a million times before. Helpling’s “Ascension of the Whales” makes us admire these mighty creatures as they majestically glide towards the surface, without using any uninspired whale samples.

“The Black Rock” takes us to a place of magic and mysteries. It has a remarkable ambient melody, and each sound seems to disappear as soon as it is played – yet somehow returns immediately, carried by flowing water. It is a sublime audio design, perfection in every sense.

The best piece on the album is called “Be”. It has Helpling’s signature sound and a masterful build-up. The guitar sounds divine as it guides us even deeper into the unknown. It is upbeat, yet there are no drums. The many layers of sound give the song almost infinite replay value.

The rune letter you see in the cover artwork is the letter L, and its name has the meaning of “lake” or “water”. From Runemeanings.com: “Water means life, beauty and the peace we associate it with. The Scandinavian people, however, have known the water under the most threatening conditions: the sea, in the northern tradition, is an irrepressible force, hard to subdue.” As a Norwegian myself, I can confirm that this description. I love how Helpling manages to capture both the life-giving – and life-taking – aspect of the sea. Listen to the song “Under Shallow Seas”, and you’ll understand what I mean. On the ocean, a smooth sail can change into a life or death situation in no time.

We are back on solid ground on “Isle in Half Light”. It is a thoughtful piece. Helpling’s music is highly visual, showing how different light settings transform the isle.

“The Heart of Us” is the 11-minute long album closer. Its ultra-slow start makes it feel like an EP within the album. It is impressive how Helpling makes the guitar sound like a beating heart.

In conclusion: “RUNE” by David Helpling is a fantastic, inspiring and in many thought-provoking release. Oceans give life, but it can also take lives. The Norse letter L, known as Laguz, is used as a reminder that having respect for the oceans is nothing new. “RUNE” is, in short, a soundscape you can spend your day in, but remember to come up for air once in a while…

Christian Celebration ,

Album Review by Dyan Garris, New Age CD

It has been said that a placid body of water was the first place man was able to get a glimpse of himself reflected back, perhaps surprisingly, by that calm, glassy, mirrored surface. “Surface” is the operative word here, as the rune, Laguz, the Norse rune for “ocean,” is more about transcending whatever reflection appears on the “surface,” and instead, getting deep into the “deep.” The music of the album RUNE, by California-based guitarist, David Helpling, is directly influenced by the waters of the ocean and the Norse rune, Laguz.

Essentially, for those that do not know, runes are ancient inscriptions; they are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets. In our modern world, sometimes runes are used for divination. Mostly, they are about wisdom and self-discovery; a remembrance of deep and ancient wisdom that we all carry within us. Transformation comes from being able to access and activate that wisdom.

Here, the rune, Laguz, represents the universal ocean; the water of life. This is about the unity of multi-dimensional life, including past, present, and future, therefore, simultaneously. This music is life force energy. It is the gentle stirring of the memory of collective consciousness.

In the creation of the album, RUNE, David Helpling immersed himself in the monumental idea of an all-encompassing ocean. And now we find ourselves easily and willingly immersed in this dreamy sea of beauty as well. Please, yes, let’s go.

David Helpling, a self-taught guitarist and musician, has a distinct signature style. RUNE is his seventh album release on the Spotted Peccary Music label. David has a history of creating lush synth-laden music, but on RUNE he has used only guitars and a custom rig to directly explore a new level of ambient expression. The entire album was created without the use of keyboards, synthesizers, or computer-based sound generators. However, one might never realize that, as David is a master of creating ethereal musical illusions with his guitars. For example, in the song, “Be,” what sounds like drumming is actually “strumming.” Yes, I am simplifying. But here David makes a beat with his guitars, giving us the perfect illusion of drums and world beat. Truly amazing.

RUNE is far more than an ambient guitar album. The music is emotionally full and rich, with scintillating textures, melodies, and organic soundscapes. Here we have expressive arrangements and heartfelt, graceful, and purposeful phrases.

The album is eight tracks and opens with the song, “Free Dive.” And here we dive deeply into an oceanic heaven. The ten-minute “Glass” follows. This is smooth, effortless, and reflective. Just beautiful, and a good length for meditative contemplation. A favorite, although it’s challenging to even try to do that here, is “Ascension of the Whales.” Shimmery magnificence, we can almost feel ourselves one with these ancient and majestic creatures. Love this. The soft, yet cinematic, “The Black Rock,” is another beauty, not to be missed. So tranquil and ethereal, we are transported to another place. For ten minutes of even deeper and blissful zone-out, you will thoroughly enjoy “Under Shallow Seas.” “Isle in Half Light” perfectly conveys the essence of mysterious twilight and ancient peoples. The album closes out with the eleven-minute, “The Heart of Us.” We indeed can feel our hearts opening and connecting back to ourselves and to all that is.

What becomes apparent to me regarding this album, which is far more than just another ambient guitar offering, is this: If you’re anywhere near the New Age, you may notice there is a lot of talk lately about coding and decoding, as in “ascension codes,” and symbols, sacred geometry, “downloads,” and the like. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing “woo-woo” about this album. The music throughout feels like a blissful, multi-colored, multi-mirrored vortex – a matrix – that draws us deep inside ourselves and reflects us back to us, not just our surface appearance, but our true nature; the nature of wholeness. And for that reason, in my opinion, I think this is one of the most important albums of our time, not because the overt intention is to bring forth “codes” or “activations,” but because I believe that is NOT the intention. And it just happens anyway. So, this music just does what it does very effectively and without even trying. Fascinating.

With RUNE, there is much to be discovered and to enjoy. The production is stellar, the music all through is supremely and wonderfully relaxing. The album is as magnificent and magical as the ocean itself.

P.S. That IS the runic symbol for Laguz on the album cover.

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