Heinali and Matt Finney


Written by: DR on 04/07/2011 18:45:13

Spoken-word artist Matt Finney and his collaboration with Ukranian musical composer Heinali for last year's "Lemonade EP" was one of the more interesting propositions any album has presented me with, either before or since then. Post-rock meets spoken-word poetry isn't something I've heard before, but these two artists managed to marry their individual styles to create a good EPs worth of material despite being thousands of miles away from each other, on entirely different continents.

Their process is: Matt will write a poem, which he then sends to Heinali, who then composes the music based on the theme or tone of the poem. Re-listening to "Lemonade", it should have been obvious that the project centred around Matt's words because on that release his vocals dominate the music, so much so that it does sound like his poetry has a soundtrack - but it worked. Now, on "Conjoined" - released only a few months after "Lemonade" - it feels like the focus has shifted away from Matt and more on Heinali and Matt Finney. The words are no longer quite as dominant on the soundscapes, probably having been brought down in the mix a little, to the point where it is occasionally slightly unclear what is actually being said. But as a result, it feels like much more of a collaboration than "Lemonade" ever did.

I would argue that, because the music is given more prominence and not just because Matt's words are for the most part depressingly dark, "Conjoined" is more powerful, emotive, and ultimately a superior release. Heinali's instrumental sections could conceivably stand alone and they'd still work. The drone soundscapes of "Postcard" and "Under God's Heaven" contain enough variation in textures that as they begin to swell you don't lose interest in where they're heading, while eight-minute Heinali-only closer shows how talented a composer he really is with by breaking the dark trend with an uplifting shoegaze effort "The Sun Will Rise Yet We Won't Be Here" - convincingly the best of all six tracks.

Matt Finney is typically intriguing. His thoughts are extremely sombre, taking on topics such as rape, religion, death and the loss of love with a twisted perspective, and for a while it seems as though he'll be unrelenting in his outlook, but in "Lifetime" (his final track) there's a gleam optimism. The song as a whole is a fine example of how both of these artists combine to create an engaging listening experience; Finney doesn't sound as angry as he does in "A Chant", or as shocking as he does in "Postcard". Instead, there's a sincerity about him in, like he's not trying to crush you with his apparent depression. It's a line as simple as "I wish I was closer to an ocean; I wish I was closer to something profound.", but, there's something hopeful in his confession, followed by a wall of static-sound that breaks the drone-trend, that leads the listener into the aforementioned closer.

For the most part, "Conjoined" is one of the darkest albums you're likely to hear all year - lyrically and instrumentally - and although sometimes the bleakness feels a little too contrived, which keeps it out of the 'great' scores, it's nevertheless a highly interesting and engaging release. "Conjoined" is, well, more conjoined than its predecessor. It's not so focused on either member, and is thus a more balanced album. It seems as though the Heinali and Matt Finney collaboration is slowly finding its feet, and I can't wait to hear where they go in the future.

Download: The Sun Will Rise Yet We Won't Be Here, Lifetime
For The Fans of: Nine Inch Nails, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, the idea of post-rock meeting spoken-word music
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 20.11.2010

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