Hang up the tinsel. Take down the tree. Look at yourself in the mirror with disgust at the five pounds you gained over a two week span. Tell your family you are going to get batteries, keep driving and never stop because Christmas is over. Officially. Any good cheer or relatively positive attitudes you had towards your fellow man is now gone. It’s that time of year again…time for another Heinali and Matt Finney record. 

Conjoined marks Southern spoken word artist Matt Finney and Ukranian post-rock sculptor Heinali’s third collaboration in 2010. June saw a move towards Matt Finney’s uniformly bitter, soured take on all things civilized while Heinali’s deeply felt post-rock passages moved glacially into heavier doom-metal. This peek into the downward spiral matched Finney’s darkest ruminations on ruined small town lives. Conjoined represents no departure in content. Matt Finney gives us his most harrowing, his most trenchant, his most gloriously effed up takes on a culture of depraved adults taking pleasure in watching the next generation impale themselves at the bottom of the slippery slope they slicked with blood and dared us to walk on. Heavy stuff.

Tales of sexual abuse, absentee fathers, husbands and boyfriends are breathed into a crackling tape recorder and folded into Heinali’s chugging guitar riffs and tremolo picked upswells. If it sounds like Finney is retreading familiar territory it is because he is. But Finney’s persistence of vision, his inability to let anything go, is way more honest than a any trifling positivist anthem choking on its own glitter. Sometimes people don’t ever get over things. Sometimes downward spirals pick up such momentum that one never finds its eye. Matt Finney seems to be living through, have lived through, or is close to those who have lived through the traumas of abortion, rape and suicide that populate his tales. When Finney says “we’re a nation of dead birds.” Frankly, I’m inclined to believe him.

While it is easy to get caught up in content, it is Heinali’s production that absolutely steals the show. Moving from carefully metered classical compositions in 2010’s Town Line, Heinali’s shoegaze influenced doom-metal becomes absolutely unhinged, bathing each track in a shining aural sheen of chest-rattling guitar noise. Heinali sense of timing is impeccable. He knows when to let Finney have his piece, ceding him the floor while underpinning his remarks with carefully placed harsh noise or dropping out completely while Finney drops bomb after bomb in what used to be your good day. He also knows how to come unglued; piercing the veil with massive guitar drones and swells that live and breathe in a shimmering seascape of lament and hope. 

Conjoined, when looked at as a whole, is much more than the sum of its parts. Taken at small doses it can seem a swirling mess of voices. Finney’s is there, directing you to open those parts of your life you swore were closed, while Heinali’s is there to calm your trembling hand, letting you know that bleeding is cathartic. Both have been down that path before. 

Ryan H. 

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