Steny Lda - _Steny Lda_
(Slow Burn Records / Solitude Productions, 2010)
by: Chaim Drishner (7 out of 10)
Steny Lda, meaning Walls of Ice in Russian, write their band's name and album title in the original Russian Cyrillic letters. The band hails from Moscow, but don't worry about texts and lyrics in Russian either. There are none, simply because Steny Lda is an all-instrumental group, playing an atmospheric kind of post hardcore meets shoegaze, that, I dare say, reminds a bit the latest work of Hypomanie (this year's _A City in Mono_), with a little bit of Klimt 1918 thrown in.

Delivering purely instrumental music is way more challenging than playing one that is fronted by, or screened with, the instrument of the human vocal chords; it does not allow room for errors, does not leave a hiding place for the artist to flee to or hide behind the voice. Error in the musical plot here cannot be redeemed by the vocal tool; instrumental music takes a risk in letting itself be exposed, showcasing exactly what it is without a redeeming factor, no vocals that may drown the fallacy, no tool that will aid a band to half-compensate for its aural contents or the lack thereof. Instrumental music leaves the musician naked, exposed for all to see, aided by his talent, passion and skills, the qualities of which are plain for all to see.

Filling an album's worth with nothing but music generated by instruments and having no vocalist that can, in most cases, bridge a gap, blur the blind spots where the music is at its weakest, is a task usually taken for granted, but harder to accomplish than one might think.

In addition, if a group can make the listener oblivious to the fact its music is devoid of a singer, being often the focal point of an album, then only one conclusion can be drawn: the music is good, per definition. So good, it needs no additives.

The fact there are relatively few pure instrumental bands out there only adds to the argument being instrumental is not for the feeble. It is indeed fucking hard to satisfy and be perfect at what you're doing, consciously left bare for all to see and hear, and ultimately judge.

Now, I love human vocals; at times I think they are the most important musical instrument out there. And yet, I love Steny Lda's instrumental delivery.

Not taking the band's instrumental self-titled debut album for granted, the band's music is as good as any band's delivering no-frills instrumental soundscapes comprised of one third post rock, one third shoegaze and one third atmospheric hardcore or post-metal of sorts.

The music is at times theatrical, exciting, powerful and well-written. This quality recording needs no human vocals to become an accomplished work. It is potent the way it is; no additives required.

In a post modern world whose attention span averages at a few seconds, it is a welcome thing to encounter a band that writes music as effortlessly beautiful, as engaging, as this little album; boldly calling forth the thinking, patient, intelligent listener within us with seemingly casual ease, aiming at the common denominator of our collective mind, reminding us what we have so thoroughly striven to forget...


(article published 1/11/2011)

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