An immaculate sense of intrigue, nostalgia and wonder”
“Immersive… like re-entering the womb.”
Ukrainian duo Heinali (aka Kyiv-based composer / sound-artist Oleg Shpudeiko) and pioneering experimental jazz saxophonist Michael Balog combine for a special one-off EP of improvised melody and exploratory sonics.
Brimming with the characteristic confidence of two acutely skilled musicians, A Mechanical Bird in an Electric Garden represents a meeting of two disparate approaches and a departure from Shpudeiko and Balog’s usual work. The record reveals Heinali’s love for generative polyphony and polyrhythms, his strange sci-fi sonics creating a spacious, futurist architecture that houses Michael Balog’s (relatively) recognisable sounding – a snaking melodic binding that wraps through the machinery like coloured ribbon.
The first of two longform tracks, Diurnal Song, begins with Heinali’s digitally formed percussive textures that become lucid rhythm to Michael Balog’s sparse, lyrical fragments of saxophone. By its halfway point, the typewriter-percussion begins to underpin UFO engine sounds and garbled alien language, while Balog’s Eastern tunings remain entrancingly human. As the piece closes, to tides of glitching waves, Balog turns to sombre and breathy wistfulness, deceptively simple but expertly placed.
On side B, Nocturnal Song – slightly shorter at 11 minutes – is perfectly named. Heinali here offers Baroquian polyphonic sine waves that shimmer at high register while Balog’s lines guide and respond like a mature voice leading a dreamlike children’s choir. It is nocturne in its gentleness and obscurity, rising slowly and culminating with a sparkling haze of modular synthesis and noirish sax.
“The name A Mechanical Bird in an Electric Garden reflects the nature of our interaction,” Heinali tells us. “Machine based generative polyrhythms and generative polyphony vs human improvisation. The name came from my own mythology that kind of developed on its own during the past year. I started to refer to my music as “electric gardens of polyphony”. Partly because gardens are usually inhabited by many independent voices of various birds that usually sound at the same time. And polyphonic compositions of pre-Baroque era are very similar to gardens: they have a very stable horizontal quality that is not so much about expression as it is about exploration of certain states (similar to some of the contemporary music practices like drone that deal with musical sculptures instead of musical compositions). Partly because of Brian Eno’s idea of composer as a gardener. And the mechanical bird is, of course, Michael’s saxophone.”
Released on April 3rd, 2020.
All tracks by Heinali & Michael Balog.
Mastered by Taylor Deupree at 12k Mastering.
Artwork by Marina Osnach.