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Heinali And Matt Finney – Conjoined

Conjoined is the result of a collaboration between Ukranian composer Heinali and Amerian spoken-word artist Matt Finney . The fact that it was recently re-released by Paradigms Recordings , (who boast two of my favourite albums in their collection; another re-release, Coma Waering by The Angelic Process , and one of last year’s best albums, MurmuĆ¼re ‘s self-titled debut) meant that the record label alone was enough to spark my intrigue. That the album is dedicated to the late K. Angylus of The Angelic Process only served to heighten my interest.

It’s fair to note, however, that it came with an amount of trepidation. Musically, I’m well within my comfort zone with the ambient, doom-fused droning metal/shoegaze sound. So too will be any fan of Nadja , Alcest , Les Discrets and, of course, the aforementioned Angelic Process. It’s the spoken-word vocals accompanying the music that are not only one of the elements that set this project apart from those artists, but are something for which I generally have no fondness.

Be they vocals or samples, I tend to find spoken word somewhat static and therefore abrasive to the natural motion of music. Rarely can I escape the sense that there’s something a little asymmetrical in the balance of the two, as the words will hold my attention back from the forward and fluid movement of music. Conjoined could well be the exception that proves the rule.

To my surprise and relief, Matt Finney’s half-whispered poetry hasn’t resulted in a narrative that diverts or withholds my attention. While he quietly speaks, Heinali’s compositions either underscore the words or play on their emotions, reacting with, or to them with undulating intensity. At times it’s delicately atmospheric, and other times it’s raw and downright torrential.

While Finney’s lyrics are a touch impassive in their delivery, it’s all quite moody and dark in content, lending a touch of film noir to the overall aesthetic. Heinali’s accompaniment doesn’t simply act as a counterweight to that, but by highlighting much of the implied emotion, the musical and lyrical content mesh to a greater degree than I expected prior to the first listen.

There are moments, such as on ‘Postcards’, where the words are considerably more stark, taking on subject matter that isn’t just intimate but feels highly personal. The swelling drone and dramatic percussion seems to comment on the unspoken thoughts swirling beneath the surface of the story being told, the overall effect of which is something that gets so close it’s almost discomfiting.

As far as descriptive titles go, Conjoined is pretty well spot on. While unique in their own right, Heinali and Matt Finney’s work presents as two halves of one entity, ultimately providing both a visceral and cerebral experience.

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