Post-rock. I’m normally somewhat apathetic about the genre, outside of a few bands. I think this genre sounds amazing when combined with other sounds, though. Enter the band Yenisei. I liked their first album The Last Cruise a few years ago, though I don’t think I reviewed it. Now they are back with Reflections, a clear step up from that debut. This new album released on October 22nd.
Yenisei hails from Poland. Their name is the romanticized version of a river system that flows through Russia and Mongolia. It fits well with their sound and their slogan “Drifting down the river”. The band consists of Grzegorz Cisek on bass, Michał Gawroński on drums, Piotr Grobelny and Piotr Klamiński on guitars, and Rafał Piniaź on keys, pads, and synths.
Like I mentioned, I usually have a difficult time liking most post-rock. Much of it feels vanilla, even when it is supposed to be emotional. There are many exceptions, though, especially when you start mixing in other genres. With Yenisei, they seem to stir in a good portion of Polish progressive rock and ambient music. Instead of relying solely on giant crescendos, the music here pulsates with riveting bass lines, floats in expansive electronic spaces, and emotes in all cinematic colors and shades. You feel the expression, even in the lower key moments.
Reflections is definitely a pensive album. It has so many gravy moments where various sounds come together to create very personal and introspective tones. A good example of this is “Aftermath”. This song has gorgeous layers of piano, dramatic bass, and shoegaze guitars. It moves casually and steadily. There is no towering crescendo near the end, but instead new sounds, specifically synth, come filtering in to shape and change the aura. It’s a beautiful song, and one that represents the album well.
The album revels in various guitar tones, voluptuous rhythms, and striking and tender moments. Yet, it also provides ambience and drifting courage. I love the grey fragments of sadness—how they hover and cloud; I love them just as much as the more animated rock portions. Yenisei certainly possesses the typical Polish melancholy.
Reflections has ten songs and is roughly 50 minutes long. Each and every track is worthwhile. I think the opening trio is amazing, starting with the mostly electronic “Gravity”, moving forward with the heavier post-rock of “Waves”, and then closing with the excellent aforementioned “Aftermath”.
The rest of the album has some real winners. I really like “Abandoned”, a downtempo ambient track with gentle melody and relatable feelings. “Blurred Horizon” is another good one with its tasty beat and and superb guitars. “Memories of Times Before” feels very Riverside in a few moments with its rippling guitar work and gloomy expressions. One of my favorites overall is “All That You Could Become”, a song with some meat and drive in its guitars. I love the central lick and the way the song floats along satisfyingly between each driving guitar portion. I also love the 2-minute closer “Returns”. It has a haunting vibe of finality and nostalgia.
Yenisei, I think, has real potential. They obviously can play well and their compositions are thoughtful, sensitive, and memorable. I love the various tones and qualities they bring to the table, but I also like their ability to construct the crescendos we all need occasionally. This album has real depth and soul, there is no doubt about that.
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