Distances of thousands of miles are clearly no obstacle for our favourite ambient duo. In fact, it could be argued that it’s a blessing for the prolific Heinali & Matt Finney. Heinali grinds away the hours holed up in his bedroom studio in darkest Ukraine, pumping out piece after piece of heartfelt drone without sacrificing an ounce of quality. On the other side of the world, Finney keeps his notebook close at hand, poised to scrawl his dystopian visions whenever life in rural Alabama gets too much.
As a result, both artists can pull together stunning compositions quickly and independently. For this reason, the project is light years ahead of their listeners. Their latest work, Dreamcatcher, is a case in point with the band placing it musically between two albums that haven’t even been released yet. But for fans wanting a glimpse into the future sound of Heinali & Matt Finney, it is now easily available through the wonders of the internet.
Composed as the background rumblings of an exhibition of the same name by photographer Olia Pischanska, Dreamcatcher delves into a world where frightful apparitions drag up suppressed memories of the past, ruining any chance of a refreshing night’s sleep. Over half an hour of pitch-black ambience, separate movements can be identified through the mist, although a prevailing dejected atmosphere binds the piece tightly together.
The trip begins with hypnotic electronic loops, lulling the listener into a cocoon of dreamlike atmospherics. But as intensity builds, the pleasant illusion of drifting off is dispelled as crackling caverns of ambience take over. Out of the darkness a sudden industrial beat pierces the soundscape and the night terrors begin as a haunting keyboard melody infiltrates the maudlin surroundings. It fades in and out at various points throughout the rest of the composition, with its simple, repetitive mantra lodging itself firmly within the deepest recesses of the mind.
Finney’s cracked southern drawl emerges out of the droning miasma almost halfway into the composition and his entry is breathtaking. Heinali drops the pulsing menace momentarily into sparse minimalism and allows Finney to take centre stage with ‘Lucifer 1’: “Fire killed all the vampires but this is our country. We were gods.” His poetry is a tempting challenge to unwind and while these first phrases are fairly impenetrable, within the context of the music it just makes perfect sense.
The third quarter is devastated by Finney’s prose and his work for the ‘Panopticon’ section of the piece is simply heartbreaking. There is something really essential about his unique writing and delivery that has rightly become definitive of what Heinali & Matt Finney is doing as a band. Narrow-minded critics somewhere are bound to write it off, ridiculing the use of spoken word within the music. But to engage, focus and analyse is where the listener is duly rewarded; this is the purpose of poetry after all.
As Finney’s tired voice peters out, the enchanting keyboard line makes a welcome return for the closing moments, wrapped in distorted and distant loops that hearken back to piece’s beginnings, as if to be roused from restless sleep. And suitably, the listener is left feeling emotionally drained; something we’ve come to expect from Heinali & Matt Finney’s conjoined personality. Sombre, minimal and beautiful, Dreamcatcher is the perfect soundtrack to traipsing around a room of surrealist photography and it is a damned shame that so few were able to experience the piece as it was intended. Dreamcatcher is available now as a pay-what-you-want download from their bandcamp. Instead of lining their pockets, the money is pumped straight back into the project in order to fund artwork for a forthcoming album by LURKER collaborator Black Uroborus. So invest and support the underground or get the fuck out.