Heinali airs his ambient mood classics. Oleg Shpudeiko (the man behind Heinali) creates a gloomy atmospheric environment with the piano, strings, ambient / glitch structures. "Air" is his 6 song album.
Heinali from Kiev, Ukraine started composing music in 2003. His sound is generally eclectic, though often described as atmospheric and emotional. In 2009 he joined the Soloma art group and composed music for media art performances “Traces on the Snow”, premiered at “I Love Kiev” contemporary art festival (Kiev, Ukraine, 2009) and “Aero”, premiered at “Gogol Fest” contemporary art festival (Kiev, Ukraine, 2010). His music was featured in ‘Ni Ogros Ni Princesas’ Provizional Danza choreography directed by Carmen Werner (Madrid, Spain, 2011). Collaborated with Maria Navrotskaya, Pleq, Merzbow, Aiode, Anton Baibakov, Orchestra Eclettica e Sincretista, Matt Finney. Collaboration with American poet Matt Finney became a separate heavier and darker sounding project. In 2011 they wrote music for the opening of Olya Pischanskaya’s photo exhibition, which took place at Korobchinsky Art Centre (Odessa, Ukraine, 2011).
Heinali joined Fluttery Records family in 2012. "We signed international music project Draff Krimmy" says Taner Torun, the label owner. "Jan Hammer recommended us Jun Minowa and his projects Gargle and Yawning. Heinali was introduced to us by Jun Minowa. It seems that artist we work with are so happy that they are recommending us to their friends and our family is growing that way."
When we return to Heinali's latest "Air" we find cinematic sad music, strings moving around the central piano motifs which are minimalistic. Power of light touches, the ambience, the echo and the sense.
Altsounds / Jeremy Daniel
One of the first things to grab the attention when scanning over the press release for Air was bold heading at the top of the page which read: "Modern Classical/Ambient Artist Heinali..." Modern Classical/Ambient... The mere mention of such hyphenate brings a slight twinge of discomfort, and all because of a prior experience which took place many, many years ago.
I was in the throws of an electronic music obsession, and Warp Records were signing their first non-electronic act Maxmio Park, when a mutual friend, with the best of intentions, had loaned me an album which he described as a mixture of classical and ambient elements. At the time, the idea of those two musical styles gelled together seemed interesting on paper, but what I was exposed to played out in an entirely different way.
Both the artist and album names have long left my memory, but what did stick was the music itself, which could best be summed up as egg-headed, coffeehouse elevator techno; the kind of music you would expect to find on a meditation album or on a CD played to women in the midst of giving natural child birth: it really was that awful. Which makes it tempting then, to veer off on a tangent examining the roles that the conveniently packaged, two-worded labels play outside of organizing the bins of brick and mortar record shops and the pages of online retailers.
These terms also come in handy when wanting to sum up a band or artist to a friend without going into lengthy detail - I'm guilty of this one on a regular basis - but they aren't always representative of the music they're pinned to. Often, these quick fixes can unintentionally marginalize an otherwise multi-layered piece of music whose blueprint is largely drawn out of a familiar style. And let's face it, there are certain words that when lumped together (i.e., crab-core, crunk-core, glo-fi) sound off-putting enough that you're liable to bypass any music associated with them, even if the music itself isn't particularly astringent.
All of this ties in with my less than pleasant experience with the modern classical/ambient hyphenate and the sense of scepticism that experience left me with. So it came as a nice surprise, after being handed this album, to have that cynical robust washed away within the records opening moments. Air lives up to its label in a sense; its atmospheres are dense and moody but manage to retain a sense of airiness throughout and its delicate piano motifs certainly nod to the classical aspect. At the same time, Air manages to transcend that labels boundaries in terms of its depth, emotional range and beauty, which is a credit to its composer: Oleg Shpudeiko, the man behind Heinali.
The Ukrainian composer began making music nearly ten years ago, but he isn't your typical musically educated composer with a classical background- this is the work of someone completely self-taught. That may seem like a minor detail, but it's fairly important considering how it reflects in the music itself; Shpudeiko's compositions play out majestically with big, bold strokes but at the heart of each lies pure, uncomplicated beauty. For this kind of music, that's an endearing quality to have, even if most of your classical purists turn their noses up at the idea of a 'novice' composer.
The notion of being so deeply invested in a set of ethos that you are able to appreciate only certain forms of beauty; the kind that comes neatly wrapped in complicated, obtuse packaging, makes for a hollow existence in my opinion. A lot of times, albums with an ambient bent tend to be adorned with the shopworn, and lukewarm term 'cinematic' by critics; but in this case, it seems fitting. In fact, immersing myself in the music as many times as I did, the album began taking the shape of a soundtrack to some sort of low budget indie film- the variety shot intentionally in black and white for greater impact, and one that dispenses with dialogue in favor of letting the music convey the emotions.
On a more personal level, it brought to mind childhood memories I haven't dusted off in a long time; memories of my grandmother hoisting me onto the piano bench as she sat beside me and played for me songs from her childhood and youth. She didn't have a classical background, (though she took lessons) but boy could she play, and I can still remember the look of joy on her face as her fingers danced gracefully along the keys. That sense of joy, much like the beauty in Air, was just as pure and uncomplicated; something you couldn't possibly learn from within the walls of a music conservatory. For a more broader comparison; think back to the numerous camping trips you've likely taken, and the scenery you awoke to every morning. There's something about impossibly blue skies, trees that threaten to puncture the heavens and the sound of running water that too, is just as pure and uncomplicated.
If Air were an album's worth of Shpudeiko's piano motifs alone, this review would have already ended and the tone would have been less enthusiastic; it has nothing to do with Shpudeiko's playing or his limitations as a composer. He's able to create surprisingly moving pieces out of very few chords or notes but had he recorded them with no additional backing? They would grow dull rather quickly and miss their mark. Luckily, he's outlined each of his fragile motifs with gorgeous string arrangements and other various effects and the end result is an album that can best be described as devastatingly beautiful.
Take for example 'Seagull', which opens with the sound of waves gently crashing against the shore as they mope back out to sea; Shpudeiko's keys glide gracefully over rolling waves which are overtaken by a mournful string arrangement. It's an image captured in time; an overcast, grey morning spent on the pier the night after a major sea change in life. 'Leaves'works from a similar approach sans the oceanic effects. The song begins with graceful and sparse notes from Shpudeiko's piano and gradually builds up to a lush string arrangement, in which the weeping of a cello at times threatens to engulf the song. The title track also works from the same approach; beginning with an understated piano followed by a gorgeous string arrangement that, combined with the piano, results in a heart-breaking crescendo.
Examining these songs closely, it's tempting to assume that Shpudeiko stumbled upon a reliable formula and stretched it out into an album's worth of material: but that would be missing the point. It's clear that he works with a strict sense of discipline; trading in temptation to wildly experiment on each track in favor of making a concise statement using a minimal approach. These aren't the kind of songs that need to be crammed with as much variety, effects and instruments as possible. As mood pieces, these songs are meant to be direct as possible, to evoke the kind of emotion we often harbor deep within ourselves but rarely allow to well up to the surface. They do the job well, and despite the album's brief running time, (six compositions in thirty minutes) the emotion can be weighty.
Despite that, none of the compositions ever border on feeling morose and Shpudeiko wisely balances out the heavier moments with a couple of breathers. Both 'Scarf' and 'October' are considerably shorter in length and are also more uplifting; the string section is noticeably absent and the pianos feel more playful and airy. Shpudeiko also wisely saves the most ambitious and dramatic piece for last. 'Bells' stretches out slowly over a ten minute period, this time beginning with a mournful sigh, Shpudeiko sounds as if he's hitting one key at a time, making the piano resemble drops of rain slowly making their way to the puddle of a cracked street.
The build up of emotion can be subtle enough you nearly miss it but it's there; lurking just behind the ominous clouds overhead, and off in the distance, a cello calls out like a beacon through the fog. Four minutes into the song and another crescendo, from behind the foggy bank of emotion that's slowly rolling in are the clear chimes of a xylophone, weathering the heavy storm. Not an unusual instrument to be placing in such a composition but what's particularly striking is the almost child-like innocence it exudes. It bravely soldiers on, like a tiny beam of sun breaking through the clouds, determined to shed a fragment of hope on an otherwise emotionally crippling situation. Shpudeiko's notes become darker and deeper until they gradually fade off as the song comes to a close.
There's a near two minute gap where just the gentle sobbing of the strings and the naive, good natured xylophone are all that's hanging in the air until Shpudeiko completely kills it off in the most cruel fashions: hitting that bellowing low note on the piano that in an instant, snuffs any of the glimmer of hope or good nature out. Musically, it's a reminder that, unlike in flashy Hollywood movies, life doesn't always yeild a happy ending to an unpleasant situation and sometimes, all you're left with is grief, broken dreams and unanswered questions. And even at that, he still manages to slide a feint hint of beauty into that ending, so maybe if this were a soundtrack, the film it accompanies may be more ambigious than what the silver screen has to offer.
Oh my; to mention all the musical influences heard on this new release by Shpudeiko Oleg of Kiev is impossible. Perhaps you could describe his music with a formula for 'excellent taste in music:' he is evidently open to many things, especially many good things. Hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical, post-punk, and everything else that comes with power - nothing seems strange to him. He presents his latest works under the banner, 'HEINALI,' demonstrating a definite flair for writing emotional music.
And that's what he does on the new release, 'Air.' With piano, strings, field recordings and experimental small bay designs, HEINALI presents a successful combination of modern classical and ambient. 'Air' presents a sensitive musical score, presenting central motifs on piano that are effectively underscored by delicate strings. HEINALI succeeds so much so that sometimes (as in "October") one might compare his music to that of piano-loving composers, such as Michael Andrews and Thomas Newman. HEINALI also spends time developing his melodic motifs, making a piece, like 'Bells,' an epic length of ten minutes.
'Air' features a series of attractive elements, and is easily accessible. On the other hand, by its depth, you can slide down into the shallow (water), as a listener. A beautiful album for this time of year when the view out the window is either lonely clouds on blue sky, or raindrops on the windshield.
Heinali is calm, calculated modern classical music. Max Richter would be one comparison. Rachel’s, that rock turned classical band from Louisville KY, would be yet another. ‘Air’ builds up its pieces gradually. Electronic touches are present throughout the album. These are used sparingly. Generally the flourishes are related to the low end, to emphasize and elongate the size and scope of the sound. It is patient. And Heinali seems to succeed best with the longer pieces, which allow a great ability to stretch out the sound.
‘Leaves’ sets the mood. This is one of the more active pieces. Max Richter’s influence is heavily felt on this piece, which consists of repetition and slow builds. Other pieces take a near-silent approach. ‘Seagull’ with its blending of the composed and field recordings, is a particularly memorable piece. Near silence from the field recording gives it a greater impact. Heinali almost appears to melt away in this track, allowing the field recording quite a bit of room in creating this wistful feeling. ‘Air’ the title track has quite a bit of electronic effects to create a constantly following sky of sound. ‘Bells’ the epic closer (which at ten minutes takes up a third of the whole album) is gorgeous. The drone sounds beautiful as crystal clear piano and bells are heard rising above, out of the constant low end. Here is where Heinali best succeeds with its mixture of classical and electronic.
This is a muted disc. At no point do things get particularly loud. Heinali does work in a rather crowded field as modern classical music becomes more and more popular. Yet Heinali is able to rise above.
Caleidoscoop / Jan Willem Broek
Fluttery is one of the most exciting international labels. From the world they pick up the cherry in terms of experimental music, post-rock and neoclassical music. They now add Ukraine to their long list where their artist come from with self-taught musician and multi-instrumentalist Oleg Shpudeiko. Very apposite in view of the European Football Championship currently being played there and in Poland. But let me, before I get cranky, just limit myself to the music. Under his alias Heinali, the man from Kiev makes usually minimal work full pianoriedels, strings and electronics, which he crossed several genres. After many digital releases, EPs and CD-Rs he finally came with the debut CD 67 Breaths. He brings a thrilling beautiful mix of neoclassical, post-rock, jazz, ambient and film music. In addition, he has two more obscure works with the American poet Matt Finney and he worked with Mary Navrotskaya, Pleq, Merzbow, Aiode, Anton Baibakov and Orchestra E Eclettica Sincretista. He continues his idiosyncratic musical path now with his second solo CD Air, 6 pieces in which he presents them together half an hour. The music here is well in line with its aforementioned debut, although it is classical and more melancholic. You get in constantly changing formations delicious melancholy string music, field recordings gritty, desolate piano parts and all kinds of electronics. It's more music for the fall, take a track like "October" alone, but no complaints from my side. The music is somewhere between neoclassical, (dark) ambient, post-rock and film music. It evokes the music of Deaf Center, Worry Train, Bersarin Quartett, Dustin O'Halloran, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter and Goldmund. Superb outlined darkness and desolation in a breathtaking setting. An intimate, melancholy and above all, a great gem.