Album of the Day: Heinali and Matt Finney, “How We Lived”
By Noah Berlatsky · August 14, 2017

Matt Finney and Heinali don’t so much mix genres as they flatten them into a single drone. Finney, a spoken word poet from the U.S., and Heinali, a self-taught composer from Ukraine, have been working together for some years; they released their last full-length, Ain’t No Night, in 2011.

Heinali’s soundscapes are often classified as ambient, but he’s also acknowledged metal bands like The Angelic Process as inspirations. The droning, pulsing textures of a song like “October Light,” off the duo’s latest, How We Lived, fit into the tradition of fuzzed-out, cross-eyed psychedelic drift from Pink Floyd through Sonic Youth post-rock. It’s easy to see Heinali listening to fellow countrymen Drudkh, or vice versa, especially as the track hits the five-minute mark and it starts to emit a feedback-driven, wailing howl, coupled to a frantic drumming groove. It’s like a soundtrack for fleeing in dreamlike slow motion from wolves across a frozen tundra.

Finney’s spoken word contributions are mostly mixed low—inflectionless nightmare whispers. “Maybe you stumble out of the wilderness four years later and you think you still have something to say, but all you do is go from desperate moment to desperate moment,” he mutters on “Wilderness.” “Lose your hair, lose a child, your dad dies,” he adds, his bland inertia and despair increasingly drowned out by Heinali’s shimmering symphony of moans—a fleet of ghosts eating literary fiction’s corpse.

What’s so special about the collaboration is that self-immolation of interior monologue, as the voice narrating shame and self-disgust vanishes into rising unholy noise.

—Noah Berlatsky

Read more in Ambient →

Top Stories

Latest see all stories

On Bandcamp Radio see all

Listen to the latest episode of Bandcamp Radio. Listen now →