Review Summary: Predictable, in the most perfect way possible.
A lot has happened in the last year. I fell in love with music again.
That’s not to say I ever lost that love. Music has always played a dominant role in my life. But something changed. My “taste” expanded far beyond the post-hardcore that used to control my listening attention. Most notably, I discovered Post-Rock, and I mean truly discovered it, beyond the typical outings of Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. This was largely due to the radio show I started at my university. I play exclusively Post-Rock.
If I were to say the entire genre of Post-Rock changed the way I looked at music, it wouldn’t be a complete lie, but it also wouldn’t be a complete truth. From my time researching the genre for my show, I scraped the bottom of the barrel, I’ve found where creativity ends, and redundancy begins. I still find gems occasionally, but not regularly. I recently downloaded an album by the band Sweek. I love it.
But by now I have enough Post-Rock music to keep my show going every week, only repeating artists on a monthly basis. I think I’ve returned to a song featured in the past maybe twice this year. Why am I saying all of this? Where is my point? I suppose what I’m trying to get at in a rather roundabout way is that I have enough Post-Rock, much more than anyone should. But I keep looking, searching, for an album to match one in particular. I haven’t found one yet.
The album is Yndi Halda’s Enjoy Eternal Bliss. It haunts me.
Structurally speaking, Enjoy Eternal Bliss is typical Post-Rock. There is nothing I can say that would entice the eye on paper. Sure, they have perfected the crescendo. Their sound is minimalistic and stripped, yet still full. Incredibly so. Like so many Post-Rock bands before and after them, each song features a theme that rises and falls over the course of 12+ minutes. They have a surprise use of vocals in Dash And Blast I find to be one of the most joyous moments in my entire music library. I want to dance every time I hear it. Even this does not break new ground.
Instead, it is the predictability of Enjoy Eternal Bliss where the brilliance is revealed. I am never truly surprised by the album, but there is satisfaction in the predictive flow of each song. It’s as if each time I listen, I am writing the tune with the band as the song unfolds in the minds eye. I am with them, enveloped in the same emotion they felt. In the moments of passive unrest towards the middle of Illuminate My Heart, My Darling!, I feel the tension preluding the climax. And I ride this emotion though the final moments of the album, into its heavily rhythmic, syncopated final seconds. Every song on this album has that big “pay-off” moment in its final section. This is partially why I still listen to this album regularly, to get to the “pay-off”. Every measure approaching it is simply foreplay. Yes, I enjoy this foreplay, but I listen to it in anticipation of the final act, just as one watches a magic trick in anticipation of the prestige. I am mesmerized every time.
Yes, Yndi Halda is predictable. Every song features one prominent theme that returns with progressive urgency. However, in the matters that are consistent throughout the album, Yndi Halda excels. Most prominently, it is their use of strings I find most fulfilling. While the violin parts never attempt to astound with complexity, they lead the album by driving its melody. The tone of the violinist is also very pleasant to the ear, creating an addictive element to their music that cannot be found in other bands. Artists of similar style like Slow Six and Neil on Impression that also feature strings have a dry feeling, like I can almost taste the rosin heavily coating the bow (I used to play the Viola). I can only describe the tone of Yndi Halda’s string player as “lush”.
Listening to Enjoy Eternal Bliss is similar to holding water in the palm. It slips and spills through the creases my fingers attempt to fill. A crude metaphor, I know, but the water represents time. Even as I write this review, I have listened to the album twice over, and I must pause at certain moments to appreciate its beauty. And time slips away. I glance at the clock every few minutes, only to realized that minutes have turned into hours. The clock is my one lasting connection to reality.
But isn’t that what we all look for in music? An experience to be lost in?