The music Keefus Ciancia composes and plays doesn’t just “set the stage and tone,” it picks you up, sets you down and transports you to whatever universe his notes conjure.
Music has a way of bringing us back to the first time we heard a song, the person we were with, what we were wearing — memory. But what about songs that are created to underscore a situation, theme, moment, place we have never been? Those pieces of music that actually establish a sense of a location or experience completely foreign to you yet you still feel like you are there, you are in it? Keefus Ciancia has a way of composing that does just that.
A consistent collaborator with T Bone Burnett, Keefus opens visual pathways through song to bring you into a story and make you feel it more acutely. Calling what he does “atmospheric” feels as if it trivializes it and, yet, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “atmosphere” as all of the following:
1. the gaseous envelope of a celestial body (such as a planet); the whole mass of air surrounding the earth
2. the air of a locality
3. a surrounding influence or environment
4. a unit of pressure equal to the pressure of the air at sea level or approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch (101,325 pascals)
5. the overall aesthetic effect of a work of art; an intriguing or singular tone, effect, or appeal
Each and every one of those definitions embodies the music he creates. The dreamy, trippy tones Keefus wrote and plays to score Jeff Bridges’ Sleeping Tapes are magic. They wind their way through and around the wandering, hypnotic words Jeff presents to all who listen, softly sending them to the Land of Nod. And when Keefus performs the pieces live onstage in Life is But a Dream, their strength is only heightened, transporting you to a whole other world that then engulfs you in its sinuous grasp. These unseen tendrils continue to perfectly complement the warm, calming sounds of Jeff’s voice as you gently, perfectly drift off to lose yourself to a celestial body of dreams.
The sounds that accompany every moment of True Detective fill you with a sense of the air of the locality, putting you right there into that situation and the literal weight of the environment so much so that you buy it, feel like you are living it without a second thought — even though you may have never been to or experienced anywhere or anything like it in your life.
His collaborations with T Bone Burnett and J. Bellerose on The Invisible Light are vivid, intriguing and singular in tone, effect, and appeal. It is transcendent, moving through you and with you, turning the ordinary into something truly unreal.
If you haven’t seen Killing Eve, first, do. Now. We’ll wait. Second? Believe us when we say the extraordinary storytelling has an equally riveting partner in the music BBC Music journalist, Paul Glynn, writes, “There's arguably only one drawback to watching Killing Eve, the rip-roaring Phoebe Waller-Bridge TV adaptation of Luke Jennings' Codename Villanelle novella series which concludes this weekend. And that's the amount of time spent rewinding each episode to Shazam the many sublime songs played out as MI5 agent Eve Polastri and psychopathic killer Villanelle track each other across the globe.”
Unloved, the band featuring Keefus, David Holmes, and singer Jade Vincent (Keefus’ wife), are the talents you hear most prevalently throughout this revelatory series. Once you do, you’ll feel what Paul Glynn says, immersed in the way every note, every lyric Jade sings evokes the depth in each scene — the diabolical and sinuous cat and mouse of it all.
And let us not forget the undeniably lingering tones of big man Benji Hughes. His seminal double-disc debut album, the 2008 A Love Extreme, owes much of its “catchy and fun” melodies that are songs about “love and heartbreak” at their core to Keefus’ songwriting and arranging. Its singular tone is embodied by Benji’s “drowsy voice,” a lyricism that fills then transports you to the heart of the duo’s sound.
When you step back and look at Keefus Ciancia’s body of work, you get a sense of a running theme or overall aesthetic you literally feel in your gut, touching body and soul, heart and mind, the knowing and unknowing.
Keefus Ciancia writes and plays music in ways that open up horizons, inspire imagination, and make us welcome sleeping, dreaming, being.
So, yes. Keefus Ciancia’s music is atmospheric and we welcome its warm embrace.
Some Music from Keefus
Listen to previews of Keefus' music below
It's In Every One of Us
“God’s Waiting Room (David Holmes)”
A Man Without A Country
The Invisible Light
Neighbor Down The Hall
Benji Hughes “A Love Extreme”
Remember (Keefus Ciancia Reminisce Remix)
Unloved / Keefus Ciancia Remix “Single”
Killing Eve Season 2 Score
Roland Meets Dog
True Detective Season 3 Score
When A Woman Is Around
Unloved “Guilty Of Love”
Do You Think They Would Tell You
Benji Hughes “A Love Extreme”
Come Into My Head
Watch Life Is But A Dream
Watch the Full Series HERE