Heinali’s new album is simply out of this world
Having discovered Heinali’s unique brand of distorted drone like electronica synesthesia by playing the amazing game Bound, I’ve in anticipation for Heinali’s new album Iridescent which came out yesterday. The album itself has an interesting story – the tracks often started off as snippets of improvisations in the studio or born from simple noodling around. Heinali then took snippets from them and rearranged them, altered them and layered other things on top of them to create the album you hear now.
Reviewing Iridescent is quite difficult because across the 42 minutes it spans, the seven tracks all share the same type of DNA and they all undergo a transformative journey similar to each other. Taking nods to drone music, a simple motif, a shimmering chord or an arpeggiator synth will kick things off and over the chorus of each track, more synths bleed into the piece and the instruments slowly transition across different forms and styles. The sound itself is like a visual star map – it’s a twisted world of sci-fi and nature in a warm and positive glow but feeling like it’s been chewed up on a cassette slightly. It’s an experimental approach but each track tackles the same journey slightly differently and it’s so hypnotic you can’t help but be drawn in.
“Enfold” introduces you to this concept with lush ambient synths that wash in and out before the ultimate sci-fi movie score kicks off with “Starling Reprise I” which is part space station, part alien world. The title track “Iridescent” is like a heavy trance track with all percussive elements removed so it feels like a soft assault on the senses as a collage of beautiful warning sirens. The track is the most hypnotic thing I’ve heard in ages – it is like a meditative trance ritual for a disco sound bath. “Shadow Intervention” reminds me of when Bjork toured with songs from Medulla before she then arranged them for voice only. It’s a slow, otherworldly sculpture of sound that envelopes you with its complex layers of synths. I love how ambiguous and fluid the song is. It’s not malevolent but it’s cloaked in a sense of wonder, discovery but uncomfortableness too. Think Akira Yamaoka’s more ambient pieces from Silent Hill 2 and 4. “Mist Ostinato” then amps up the organs and buzzes into a blinding piece of textured ambience whilst “Starling Reprise II” feels much more futuristic and empty as sounds are dismantled and placed into a warped dribble between notes and chords. It’s this trademark sound that pulled me into Heinali’s work from the beginning and it’s lovely to hear it’s ever-present in his work. The closing track is the magnum opus of a track – the 10-minute explosion of sound that is “Rainbow Folding”. It sounds exactly like you’d imagine it would from the title. Happy bleeps dripping from ear to ear that rise and smash into each other in a frenzied collision of sound molecules and then slowly over the latter few minutes the energy disperses into a zen calming trickle of sound. There’s something quite Phillip Glass about it as its repetition and aggressive nature nods to his work but it’s uniquely Heinali and every time I hear it I am utterly floored by its awe and wonder.
Is it an experimental piece of music? Hell yes. Is it something that will be for everyone? Definitely not. If you have even the slightest urge to try something completely out of the leftfield and want to experience sound sculpting in its purest form then I urge you to grab this album. It’s utterly superb and it takes me to places I have never been in music before as it holds me in a complete trance whenever I listen to it with headphones on. Astounding.
Recommended track: Rainbow Folding
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