Much has been said about this project - spanning a vast ocean, two continents and many genres in between - so I don't feel the need to get into too many specifics about them. The two behind the band are Heinali, based in the Ukraine, and a composer of ambient soundscapes and electronic drone-like beauty, and Matt Finney, an American spoken word poet. On paper, this sounds like absolute madness, on record, it sounds like absolute perfection.
Considering their geographical extremity, the band have released a startling number of records, a full length and a handful of singles and and EP in the last year alone. How they find the time for such collaboration I'll never know, but if they keep producing works such as Ain't No Night, I don't think I want to know.
"In All Directions" begins with a wall of static, drawing you in and leading you into Matt Finney's spoken vocal. The music behind the vocal builds, layer upon layer of sounds and texture. Deep, rumbling and full noise jar with a beautifully soft piano line, until there's nothing but a hesitantly hit key and shimmering cymbals. Never has a song title been so appropriate, because this track is seemingly being pulled in multiple directions. There's an definite post-rock vibe here, the distorted electronics and the drum calling to mind bands such as Life In The Dark. It's a little disconcerting, a little unnerving, but it's full of such beauty and wonderful moments that it can be uplifting at times.
Second track "Tinderbox" is a gloriously fuzzy, head-nod inducing song. Listen to this with headphones and be completely taken in by the soaring sounds created by self taught musician Heinali. It's gorgeous in all aspects, the composition lifting your heart, filling it with expectation for what might come next. And what comes next is near silence. A deep drum line, small bursts of static and a much slower pace close the track.
There's a fantastic rhythm and blues vibe to title track "Ain't No Night." I can imagine being sat in an old blues bar, a shot in hand, listening to the band on stage telling this as a story. Of course that's only one side to this song, which is full of massive slabs of electronic noise, and swings between intensity and minimalism in the blink of an eye. And that's what so intriguing about this band, that no matter what the song is doing, it's still coherent. It makes perfect sense, the lyrics (as it were) fitting with the tone of the music so well. And the lyrics are still as intense as they could be if screamed, or howled or sang as in most post-rock/ambient rock projects.
"Hallelujah" is a sublime track, starting with a gentle piano led introduction, a barely there and immensely deep bass line hidden behind it. Finney's voice cuts in, his quiet way of talking, you feel, directly at you is so personal and this song seems terribly sad. The lo fi guitar fizzes with distortion, high pitched and screaming along with a stunning drum fill. This is not a song of praise, this is a song of heartbreak - but also one of relief and I think, hope.
Heinali & Matt Finney are a band best listened to alone, in a darkened room, with perhaps a glass of whiskey. They're a band to pay attention to, to lose yourself in. To love.
This two person project that spans continents has gotten a bit more attention in the past year or so. Having released a couple of EPs online (with a small number of physical pressings) along with a few covers and a soundtrack for an art installation. All of these things give insight into this project the covers including Joy Division and Radiohead and the mere fact that they were propositioned to do something for an art installation should do a little bit to prepare the listener for what is to come on their new record.
The pairing have always had certain musical templates that have been referenced throughout their work. The heavy electronic drone, the shoegazey washes of guitar and synthesizer, and the ambient waves of electronics. All of these things help to set a mood for Matt Finney's spoken word style vocals. The combination of these two things tends to work based on finding the character of the song and relating it to the spoken word pieces. Building creeping, and at times hulking atmospheres to help envelop the listener into a separate world.
Album opener "In All Directions" could by itself be a single. Notably this would be in an alternate dimension in which songs that display a truly disturbing atmosphere got radio play or promotion of that sort. The nearly 12 minute song goes through multiple phases waxing and waning throughout its running time. This track alone could show the breadth of what the duo are up to in general. Sweeping atmospherics with a low pitched spoken word backing creating a mesmerizing and unsettling feeling for the listener. By the time the second track comes in the listener can be fully prepared for what is to come. This song comes with a political lyrical base and stumbling beats coming through to propel the song along making for a strong follow up to the long opener. Even though the song is only a slight bit shorter than the prior track it feels much shorter have a more notable rhythmic quality.
All of these things help to make a recording that sounds full and reeks of atmosphere. Something that can be listened to on headphones and truly take the listener elsewhere. This is all without relying on questionable motifs or obvious concepts. The duo seem to have grown together to build something stronger than they have previously released. Showing their influences off without merely being a tribute to those influences makes them a strong contender for a serious up and coming act within their field. While there doesn't seem to be too many others in their field, given the combination of musical ideas, they truly stand out amongst the pack.
8.5 / 10
Reviewed by 2 writers.
Posted April 8, 2015, 12:10 p.m.
Secret Admirer, a new black metal project featuring Heinali and Matt Finney plus Andrew Helinski of Gilded Lily, has posted two teaser tracks of their new project. They describe the ...
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