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Patience Is A Virtue: yndi halda Prepare To Return With 'Under Summer'

Thursday, 25 February 2016 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

Photo: Daniel Gregory

In this globalised world of trends, hashtags and instant engagement, it’s easy to underestimate fan loyalty. We live in a society where brevity is encouraged, but that’s not to say that real artists aren’t given a bit of leeway.

It’s why most Game of Thrones fans are ready to leap to the defence of George R.R. Martin when he’s criticised for taking too long to write his next book, or why over a thousand people have pledged for an oft-delayed My Vitriol album that, if and when it does emerge, will be some 15 years removed from ‘Finelines’.

Fans of yndi halda have learned the value of patience more than most. The band’s debut record ‘Enjoy Eternal Bliss’ – the English translation of their Old Norse name – was first unveiled in 2006. Years of snippets and infrequent shows followed, but the band refused to patronise their followers with excuses or by announcing a cop-out hiatus. Now, they’re back and offering a concrete reminder of their brilliance with album two, ‘Under Summer’.

“It’s difficult to say where we’ve been because we technically haven’t been anywhere,” multi-instrumentalist James Vella said. “We’ve not stopped and we’ve not stopped working on music – in fact, my day job involves music. The reality is that even though we play shows and put out records, we’re a group of busy people that enjoy music but have external responsibilities beyond that. The band being split between Brighton and London has meant that everything took time and we did things as our obligations allowed.”

It might not be the most rock ‘n’ roll answer, but yndi halda have never been that sort of band. ‘Enjoy Eternal Bliss’ was a slow, cinematic and drawn out instrumental record, its four songs each constructed as long-form pieces with distinct sections.  

Many people lumped the band in with other crescendo conjurers of the time such as Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But the most impressive element of their debut was their ability to be as engaging during the quiet moments as they were the loud, subtly introducing new melodic themes rather than meandering. It might explain why, despite having released only one LP, yndi halda have received more critical acclaim than the hordes of self-styled post-rock bands that followed.

“Post-rock is never a tag we’ve never been fond of and I don’t use it wilfully,” Vella said. “We tend to think of bands like Tortoise and Bark Psychosis as being post-rock, which is different to the Godspeed-esque guitar build-up stuff we get associated with. 

"Besides, since ‘Enjoy Eternal Bliss’, the whole music sphere has undergone this hyper-speed change. I’ve watched so many different waves and trends rise and fall. We’ve always felt somewhat detached from it all, although it has been cool to see more modern classical acts like Ólafur Arnalds​ and Nils Frahm do well.

“I’m happy to see stuff come and go. If bands that do sound like us emerge then it means that they might stumble across us, if they don’t then it means we can be distinct and that’s fine too. I like that we can be an antidote to all these tie-dye wearing bands that all sound the same.”

yndi halda might still be marching on with a stubbornly long-winded style, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t dramatically evolved both musically and personally over the past 10 years. The previews of the upcoming ‘Under Summer’ even revealed more pop-oriented structures and clear cut vocals.

“Our newest single [Golden Threads From The Sun] is probably the catchiest thing we’ve ever written,” Vella said. “The pop elements of [our] sound are more poppy but the classical elements are more classical too, if that makes sense. Even the single itself is an extract of a 15 minute song. We see it as window into the record. I think the changes were inevitable given we wrote our first album in our early 20s and this one in our early 30s. We approached the recording process with a lot more maturity and experience.”

Certain elements of the album, though, were written as early as 2008, with Vella recalling that the guitar line from Golden Threads… popped up on the band’s first UK tour. Transporting a mobile rig to a dusty farmyard, the band learned on the job while crafting their debut, but this time around they were absolutely meticulous in the preparation of the record, becoming producers as well as musicians. "We tended to just pick the ‘least bad’ take when tracking on our first album,” Vella said. “This time around there was a lot more process and technique, and so there’s a lot more clarity to compositions.”

Another conscious decision seems to have been to tone down the bleakness of their sound, or at least to provide more balance. Vella adds that when the band initially formed, as schoolboys, they were all naturally drawn to melancholic music first and foremost.

Other music forms, though, have long been part of their DNA. Along with a drummer and a guitarist who have “always been obsessed with Nick Drake”, Vella has slowly absorbed the techniques and chord progressions associated with more traditional music. He even alludes to an instrumental folk ballad at the tail end of the record, even if the band’s core sound hasn’t changed drastically. The long structures, the tremulous guitars, the gentle strings are all there.     

“Overall, I’d say we’ve become progressively more optimistic with our sound, as well as our outlook,” Vella said. “There was a time when we didn’t think this record was going to happen, to be honest. We’re feeling really great about it.”

'Under Summer' is out on March 4 through Burnt Toast Vinyl/Big Scary Monsters.

Yndi Halda Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri March 25 2016 - GUILDFORD Boileroom
Sat March 26 2016 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Mon March 28 2016 - LEICESTER Firebug
Wed March 30 2016 - BRIGHTON Hope and Ruin
Thu March 31 2016 - CARDIFF Moon Club
Fri April 01 2016 - LONDON Oslo Hackney

Click here to compare & buy Yndi Halda Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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