Heinali & Matt Finney - "Ain't No Night" (2011) [Paradigms Recordings]
Is it darkness? Is it blindness?
I don't think I've ever let an album digest for this long before reviewing it. Thanks to the LURKER folks, I was already well aware of the Heinali & Matt Finney project when lyricist Matt Finney contacted me last April, but without a release date or an album cover I couldn't really do a review. So I listened and waited. And listened. And waited. Suddenly four months pass and, lo and behold, Paradigms Recordings released the rather fitting album artwork you see to the left. A poignant, lonely still life of an empty glass, no doubt once filled with whiskey, and an abnormally clean ashtray. A faded glimpse into the pure, abject misery, to say the least, of Ain't No Night.
Upon listening to Ain't No Night, one will immediately notice composer Heinali's use of space. Yes, unlike previous releases Conjoined or Town Line, where Heinali's songwriting was relentless and uncompromising, Ain't No Night features more open, reserved compositions, this time showcasing Matt Finney's gravelly, pained spoken word. Swirling through amorphous noise, pummeling, atmospheric doom, mid-era industrial rock, post-rock, blues, and even a quiet piano tune, Ain't No Night showcases Heinali's ability to compose in various styles; he's not just a one-trick pony.
Matt Finney's prose, one line featured at the top of the article, is what really makes this album special, at least for me. Tales of disgusting, seedy characters, horrid home lives, and the pure wretchedness of life. Finney is probably the only lyricist in modern music who can find endearing, empathetic qualities as he describes lowlifes, "fucking waitresses and getting blowjobs in the parking lot." Having more in common with the old beat poets, William S. Burroughs, or even classic blues performers (the title track plays like a blues, however short), Finney's command of the English language, cohesive or not, hits a harrowing nerve.
Together, these two feed off of each other in a dual-symbiotic relationship that not even an ocean and two continents can divide. Finney's "all too real" lyrical content with Heinali's unique, non-genre-specific compositions have come together for one of the most emotional, moving albums of 2011. Visions of rusted-out trailers, piles of empty bottles once filled with whatever (you can't even taste it anymore), no sleep and a constant 5 o'clock shadow studded with grease; misery is a universal language. Hallelujah.
Keep an eye on the Paradigms Records website for the debut of one of these four songs (of which I am unsure as of yet) and the "special preorder package," to be unveiled August 1st.