With a title like ‘Kyiv Eternal’, there is no escaping the associations with what, for many in the West, is a distressing reminder of the precariousness of our comfortable modern life but which, for those remaining in Kyiv, must be a constant source of underlying tension.

This tension is the main feeling that Heinali’s new album ‘Kyiv Eternal’ evokes in me. The album is a collection of pieces, each a combination of recordings of day-to-day sounds overlaying a combination of electronic tones, static, sonic textures and fragmented musical samples.

The composer explains is the intention behind the album is his tribute and gift for the city he has lived in for thirty seven years, saying of his fellow Kyivites “We wanted to hug [the city], to protect every inch of it from harm… ‘Kyiv Eternal’ is my hug.”

The album opens with ‘Tramvai 14’, which evokes a morning commute at daybreak, with the sounds of a tram ride ever-present and the names of city stations called out as we progress through a series of gently distorted chords which fade in and out.

I wouldn’t necessarily call ‘Kyiv Eternal’ challenging or uncomfortable but to me it doesn’t quite feel like the “hug” that Heinali intends with his collection of pieces, each of which conjures a lingering mood rather than providing a message or musical progression. The tracks are always pregnant, never resolving, often “gestalt switching” between unnoticed background sound and invasive noise, like a helicopter overhead, at times feeling mildly ominous or unsettling.

The first exception to the rule is ‘Night Walk’, which shows much more of a musical form than the other tracks, like an intro which never quite drops – with clever and subtle modulation and manipulation of the pleasant repeating organ riff into a slightly twisted, disturbing form, going on too long, repeating too much, like a warped, skipping record that you’re too drunk and half-asleep to switch off. 

Another exception is the title track, ‘Kyiv Eternal’ which is now available to stream. This track has the cathartic feel of a movie finale – pan up to blue sky over the city, roll credits, walk out to bright mid-day sun and bask in the luxury of forgetting the disturbing reality of today’s Kyivites. 

Heinali: Kyiv Eternal – released 24th February 2023 (Injazero Records)

Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.