Oleg Shpudeiko aka Heinali is a composer with no musical education, something one can hardly believe when listening to an album as beautiful and disciplined as Air. A closer listen however reveals the experimentation that only someone who has learned to make music all by himself is capable of. Shpudeiko experiments with his piano keys and is in awe of the sound each one of them can produce. He slowly but steadily becomes a master of the magic his instruments produce and learns to use them in order to make melodic pieces, where the minimal piano is accompanied by atmospheric background noise. Considering the amount of work Heinali has produced already, one can imagine the process of learning to tame his instruments (or software) is something he goes through every time he decides to make music.
Air has a very fitting title, as the music, in true minimalist fashion, has the lightness of something immaterial. While ultra-minimal music is always in danger of not carrying any weight, or not being considered music for that matter, Shpudeiko manages to keep that delicate balance that makes his work pleasant to the ears. Along with the piano sounds, which are prevalent in the majority of the album, Heinali utilizes strings, which add to the nocturnal, melancholic atmosphere the album attempts to build. Air often feels like a piano concert, taking place on a cold, rainy night, and at certain points reminded me of some of the more classical-like work of Yann Tiersen, especially the lovely “October” with its slightly more cheerful piano play, a waltz for broken souls.
While much of the above may scare some potential listeners who avoid anything described as “sad” or “melancholic” like the plague, I should make clear that Air is a truly complete work, a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, and like all good stories, it leaves you with a sense of joy, the joy of knowing you have just experienced something unique and beautiful. Heinali is a dignified and incredibly talented artist, who may not use too many ingredients when making his music, but does it in a way that makes one appreciate the power of minimalism, and its ability to produce genuine emotions. The greater accomplishment of this album is that it eventually embraces its listeners and transfers them to a more peaceful world, in a way art can when it approaches perfection. (John Kontos)