Before composing Helena's Skin, reclusive producer Fifty Grand ditched his hilly, sun-dappled Hollywood home and returned to the Connecticut town he was raised in. "This is the album I had to flee Los Angeles to make," the producer, whose real name is Elliot Onofrio, wrote in a somewhat puzzling email to The FADER. "This is what it sounds like to exile Fifty Grand to his childhood basement after six years of traveling the world. Some answers are much closer than we think. Some always have been."
Over the course of six gorgeous instrumentals (and one remix), those "answers" reveal themselves in tense, surprising ways. A song named for a supposedly haunted Connecticut mountain range opens with a whimsical, toy-like piano tune. The lush "Someday, You'll Have To Answer Them" feels as indebted to Bernard Herrmann's hyper-dramatic scores as it does to the delicately mangled sound collages of Oneohtrix Point Never. The title track, which starts simply with a pastoral acoustic melody and forest sounds, eventually swells into something big and world-swallowing. It's like music from an adults-only fairy tale, in which even the happiest endings are cloaked in ominous shadows.