Yndi Halda Enjoy Eternal Bliss

[Big Scary Monsters / Burnt Toast Vinyl; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: post-rock, instrumental rock
Others: GY!BE, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky

None of my friends play in instrumental post-rock bands, but if they did, I think I’d have the same kind of “Oh, that’s too bad” reaction I did when one of my college friends told me his group’s main influences were Rancid and the Bouncing Souls. Although I remember being blown away by Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists LP in high school, along with Sigur Rós' Agætis Byrjun, the genre seems to have stagnated in recent years. After being underwhelmed with GY!BE’s Yanqui UXO, I didn’t even bother with the most recent Sigur Rós records or, for that matter, any of those “other” incestuous Montreal post-rock groups.

See, the patience and attention this sort of music demands is only endurable if the songs are interesting. Without the field recordings and spoken-word snippets, GY!BE lost a lot; even though these weren’t the “point” of the music, they helped move things along, y'know? As you may have guessed, Yndi Halda (Icelandic for “Enjoy Eternal Bliss”) is, in fact, a modern post-rock group, happening to hail from the U.K. And although Yndi Halda is, by and large, more emotional and “warm” than some of their contemporaries, the question remains: is simply walking the steps enough to carry the day?

Enjoy Eternal Bliss is at its best when new ideas emerge, like with the wordless group vocals at the end of “Dash and Blast” and the first few iterations of the lovely violin figure of “We Flood Empty Lakes” (before it’s repeated ad nauseum and requires the services of a glockenspiel to resuscitate the tune). The latter is pretty, but at nearly 12 minutes, it seems a shame that the group waits until the last few minutes before really giving it their best shot. Fortunately, “A Song for Starlit Beaches” has an incontestably lovely midsection, owing to some sweeping, weeping violin parts. But some rather thin production prevents the song from really achieving the thunderous climax it’s after; strangely, the final coda sounds fuller and more forceful than the central catharsis. Closer “Illuminate My Heart, My Darling” (I know, “ugh”) doesn’t pull any surprises, but I was happy to hear the relatively galloping loud bits (this one has not one but three climaxes) butt up against some not-overboring “verses.”

As with just about every album in its genre, Enjoy Eternal Bliss goes out with a whimper, but at least it’s only a minute’s worth, following “Illuminate My Heart"’s last slab of shock and awe. The final impression is one of an exceedingly competent group, if not one that is yet breaking any new ground. For Yndia Halda, though, that’s at least enough to merit a quiet nod of approval.

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