Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yndi Halda - Enjoy Eternal Bliss

Yndi Halda - Enjoy Eternal Bliss

No, seriously. Enjoy it. Not only is this album full of it, but its all around you, so long as you know how to look. For whatever reason, I'm reminded of an essay by Mark Kingwell, in which he writes:

The main point of all this is to see that wonder does not inhere in objects themselves, is not an internal property of them like an emanating aura. It arises, instead, from a complex relationship between us and objects. That's why issues of authenticity and originality are ultimately less important than the richness, the texture, of one's personal confrontation with a certain thing. The wondrous object might be a Picasso, with all its heavy cultural sanction and monetary approval; but it can, equally, be a salt shaker, crumpled napkin, or unlaced workboot. The crucial thing is that we recognize the power of objects, at rare but accessible moments, to rise above their cheap utility - and the manipulating energy of packagers and brand-masters - to assume a wondrous new status, a glow of beauty. Wonder is personal it is also cultural and political, and so our experience of objects is ultimately fragile: it can be conditioned in countless ways, somestimes impaired or even stolen from us.

In his essay Wonder Around, he argues for the very concept of wonder as something liberating from the commercial world, and as something which must come willingly from within, rather than forced on from abroad. As he writes in the above paragraph, "It arises... from a complex relationship between us and objects". This concept of his can just as easily translate to music; we are not affected by music merely as listeners, as vessels to accept it and enjoy it, but much of our enjoyment comes from within, as a result of our personal ability to relate to the experiences that are translated through the art of another human being. While the band can create whatever it likes as it appeals to them, it is up to the listener to forge that personal and emotional connection to the music, that sense of wonder, if you will, that transcends the very medium of music.

Which brings us back to the title of this album, Enjoy Eternal Bliss.

With post-rock bands, the lack of words or vocals for explaining a song's meaning is often off-set by the little things that many bands take for granted; be it something as simple as the album cover, or the titles of such songs or albums, these hints, if you will, operate as an introduction to, and in many cases a personification of the themes and motives behind what is often an intricate and complex piece of music. When Godspeed You! Black Emperor, for example, gives names to each movement in a song, you know that this isn't random, but a direct act of associating the music with a specific feeling or emotion that is conjured up within the vast frame of what they intend to create.

So too, with Yndi Halda, a five-piece group of musicians from England who employ tremendous instrumental range and emotional versatility in creating their first album, Enjoy Eternal Bliss. Their music takes much the shape that their album title and moniker (Yndi Halda meaning "enjoy eternal bliss" in Old Norse), as well as their ages (they were still in high school upon the writing of this album) would suggest, as they present an optimistic and exuberant journey through the glory and naivety of youth. The song titles support this claim, with such buddingly hopeful titles as "A Song for Starlit Beaches" and "We Flood Empty Lakes". Indeed, when Yndi Halda tell you to enjoy eternal bliss, this is a message to you, the listener, requesting a mere hour of your time to remember what it is like to be innocent and free, unshackled by the chains of reality and the responsibilities of life. In this respect, the band leads by example; what they create is beautifully grandiloquent and unendingly epic, a near-perfect slice of instrumental heaven.

A gentle flowing guitar lick, accompanied by a sweetly remorseful violin and equally lamenting piano keys, as the pattering of the drum moves ever quietly forwards. The song builds, adding more and more pieces as it goes. The percussion quickens. An electric haze of guitar-fueled distortion signals the crescendo among a cacophony of clattering symbols, undercut by the now-trembling violin. The din's pace eventually slows. Quiets. Stops. The only two remaining sounds now are the demure wails of the violin and the tender loop of the guitar, conjoined in the lone fight against absolute silence. The symbols increase again, and suddenly the violin picks up to a murderous shriek, and with it, everything else seems frail by comparison. The clamor emitted seems like the elegaic undulation of an entire orchestra, with each instrument working towards a single end in an unremitting burst of power.

This is Yndi Halda. Wondrous, high-pitched, treble-heavy post-rock who's every note elicits a feeling of sweet serenity.

Enjoy it.


gabbagabbahey said...

I was hipped to this by the eMusic 'Crescendo-core' dozen:

it used to have God Is An Astronaut - All Is Violent, All Is Bright before it was taken off the site for some reason.

this is very good, although it's a little close to G!YBE at times. not that's a bad thing, it's just going to take me some more listening to really identify with this band.

have you heard the new Grails, Doomsdayer's Holiday? possibly one of the post-rock albums of the year.

cretin said...

it is very comparable to GY!BE circa Lift Yr Fists, but I definitely find it to be more upbeat and more optimistic than anything they've done. also, they tend to use a variety of higher pitches in their music, albeit while keeping the same 'orchestral' feel to it. I'll post the youtube video of their newest song later today, as it signals a further departure from the mentioned GY!BE-esque territory (plus it has bells!)

haven't heard Doomsdayer's Holiday yet, but I have managed to find some earlier Grails stuff, including Burning Off Impurities and the Black Tar Prophesies, so I'll be listenening to them soon. how do they compare?

gabbagabbahey said...

mediafire link here:

it's like Burning Off Impurities turned up a few notches on the dial... haven't fully absorbed it yet, but after two listens I can definitely say it's good stuff.

if you've found all that stuff by them, you'll realise pretty quickly that Grails have a pretty wide range from release to release. this one's incorporating a good deal of electronic sounds.

as for Yndi Halda, yeah, I wouldn't overstate the GY!BE comparison either, it does have a higher register vibe to its orchestrics. still, it's about firmly separating them in my mind.

cretin said...

thanks for the link. just finished Burning Off Impurities, and I tell ya, I feel like I should be in an opium den in marrakesh while listening to these guys.