Music made in an antique train station for flying weightlessly across a cold Ukrainian landscape. You can hear the weather in Heinali‘s works, from an artist that is not classically trained but who instead uses the sounds of everyday life found in many researches, and in collaborations with people he has never met or will never meet again.
I first hear Heinali over the radio in Berlin in 2009, a series of electronic sounds strung together with deliberate disparity, set to passionate lyrics in Russian, whose meaning I wanted to know. I wrote to him and he told me that the lyrics for To Live were written and performed by the artist and singer Maria Navrotskaya, from Twiggy Pop band. He said “she was fighting cancer when she wrote this words, and I believe she put into them all of her urge to live, like she always used to put all of herself into the music. Tragically, she passed away just four days ago. She never told widely about her illness and most of the people who liked this song understood it as the some kind of ode to life. Well, this is the most sincere ode to life I’ve ever known.
From Odessa in the Ukraine, Twiggy Pop was a musican and poet of the disconcerting, lyrics in English or Russian layered over experimental contemporary music. To Live is exceptionally beautiful:

“… to devour a jam with a spoon, without X-rays, without damaged genes, by the bridges, by the heels, coffee and truffles, holding hands, legs, giraffes necks, wet heads, open hearts, sleepy evenings, without past, without bygone, soft kisses, hard week days, maroon fate, paper with scribbles, to eat the top crust of bread, to breathe in the ear, brave eyes, lipstick-less lips, cold noses, secretly, with tears, full speed right ahead, eating the almond of bitterness, in a bathroom, excited by the fluent line, to see you again, when nose is bleeding, fuck you cancer, to feed the pigeons, to loose in a lottery, to be a fairy for a child, to hug the friend Viko, to fly far away in the airplane, gasping out of happiness, crying out of excitement, remembering no evil, crumpled jacket, yesterday´s saucepan with the porridge, with the experience which is not necessary for anybody, clattering, bell ringing, here and now, to live only once… God, how I want to live!


I have followed Heinali’s career ever since, following rainy noises, repetative triplets, sometimes a darker rock element. He has created a project called Fourteen Steps with Dmitry Evgrafov, lighter, boyish, playful, riding along and being silly at the same time. He has also produced several albums of heavy guitar doomgaze with American poet Matt Finney, though they have never met. “We already did two albums developing this sound and it’s starting to repeat itself. Since the project isn’t about any particular genre of music, but more about merging spoken word with music in general, we want to explore, find our new sound. Maybe acoustic.
Though Heinali does not often have the opportunity to play live his live setup is also always changing, “I want to get rid of computer on stage, ultimately, so I’m collecting old tape players (I’m going to record loops and play them back from tape), so this will be the sound source, mixer and guitar pedal effects as a processing chain“.

Heinali’s latest albums Orbit, released in December 2011, and Air from 2012, are made for their atmospheres, specifically the vast landscapes of the Ukraine and northern Europe. Sustained harmonies layered underneath piano melodics, a little like someone is taking tentative steps through the snow. For Heinali, the pauses between the notes are where he takes respite and creates drama, but a subtle drama, like the presentiment of winter. What I find particularly compelling is the subtle use of field recordings, which like radio give the work a sense of presence, like if it’s 1852 and you are arriving into the antique main station of Kiev, with a giant trunk and a black overcoat.
Music for imagining places very far away, the Ukraine maybe, and even beyond, even further, to the stars, a wish evoked by the bells and ratified by the title. All of his music is very sustained and patient, without chaos or order, a feeling which ensues from the combination of discontinuous unsegmented notation with a very understated kind of rhythm, like something derived from everyday life.

Philippa Nicole Barr

Air (Fluttery Records, 2012)
Orbit (Self, 2011)
web: soundcloud.com/heinali