Oleh Shpudeiko is a music composer and sound artist who records as Heinali. He specialises in electronic music and modular synthesis, taking inspiration from Early music.
He is drawn to the subtlety and nuance of Early music and a miraculous equipoise of polyphonic texture capable of invoking a transcendental experience. As a self-taught electronic music composer, Oleh possesses a stylistically diverse back catalogue, sound art and interdisciplinary works. However, in his core practice, he's been focused on reimagining medieval music with a modular synthesiser, an instrument that he sets up informed by artistic research enabling him to improvise polyphony and monophony, borrowing techniques and ideas from medieval composers & theorists and contemporary fields of analogue synthesis & generative music.
Oleh was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. Beginning in the early 2000s with a handful of stylistically and compositionally eclectic self-released albums, ranging from modern classical and ambient to experimental electronic and noise, Heinali came into broader international awareness with his 2017 and 2018 releases on London / Istanbul electronic label Injazero Records—ANTHEM and IRIDESCENT. 'An immaculate sense of intrigue, nostalgia and wonder', writes FACT Magazine. Uncut described ANTHEM as 'immersive… like re-entering the womb'. While Oleh composed ANTHEM employing primarily sound processing techniques, IRIDESCENT offers a window into Shpudeiko's fascination with generative counterpoint.
His 2020 MADRIGALS album marries this interest with his love for Early music featuring improvisations on period instruments over polyphonic textures generated on a modular synthesiser. It was named contemporary album of the month in The Guardian, shortlisted for the Aprize Music Award and Shevchenko National Prize. 'As if Palestrina composed music for little electric boxes with patch cords. Except it's the boxes that compose music like Palestrina', one reviewer observes. Oleh has been working on a generative polyphony patch for modular synthesis since early 2018, providing the backbone for his live sets and subsequent releases.
Heinali's latest album KYIV ETERNAL, released in 2023, is an intimate tribute to his home city under attack and a side-step from his established practice of reimagining early music. It features pre-war field recordings of Kyiv juxtaposed with ambient 'memory loops' from Oleh's archives. Richard Allen marked it as 'the first definitive album about the war' in A Closer Listen. Jason Farago described it in The New York Times as 'a ravishing audioscape of the Ukrainian capital' and 'a citywide portrait of beautiful resolution'.
In the same year, MoMA Magazine premiered Oleh's AVES RUBRAE ("red birds" in Latin), a composition commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art—a return to his core practice drawing on medieval polyphony as well as the music of the band Coil, which influenced Shpudeiko as a young composer.
Alongside this catalogue as a solo musician, Heinali encompasses interdisciplinary, multi-media art projects and soundtracks. Shpudeiko's sound artworks, in collaboration with Ukrainian classically trained music composer Alexey Shmurak, are in the National Art Museum of Ukraine and Museum of Modern Art of Odesa collections. In 2016, Shpudeiko composed award-winning original music for the video game BOUND (Plastic/Sony Santa Monica) and the contemporary dance production A THREAD, choreographed by Jean Abreu and premiered at Southbank Centre. Around the same time, he began a new collaborative project with actor/choreographer Volodymyr Shpudeiko. Their SYNTHTAP production fuses tap dance and modular synthesis, a generative sound production that responds directly to the dancer's movements. In 2021 THE WALL reactive ballet, based on SYNTHTAP technology in collaboration with choreographer Illia Miroshnichenko, premiered at the Kyiv Municipal Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre to critical acclaim.
Oleh is also known for his collaboration with US poet Matt Finney. The meeting point of Finney's spoken word performance and Shpudeiko's droning electronics yield, according to Bandcamp, 'a soundtrack for fleeing in dreamlike slow motion from wolves across a frozen tundra'. Between 2011 and 2021 Finney and Shpudeiko released four collaborative albums of dark 'southern gothic' poetry collages.
Heinali's recorded works have been released on Injazero, Sony Interactive Entertainment, The Flenser, Opal Tapes and other labels. He has a long history of live performances, including appearances at venues and festivals such as NEXT in Bratislava, Primavera in Barcelona, Unsound in Krakow, Ephemera in Warsaw; Berlin's Berliner Dom, in collaboration with the Alter Ratio vocal ensemble; Kyiv's Plivka and Mystetskyi Arsenal; Ukraine's Next Sound festival and Berlin's Akademie der Künste.
Oleh performs his live shows on a modular synthesiser, employing a patch inspired by the polyphony of the High Middle Ages. Pitchfork featured Heinali's wartime performance in a bomb shelter in Lviv, Ukraine, that was loosely based on the 12th-century organa of the Notre-Dame school in the best sets of 2022, described by Philip Sherburne: 'In any other context, it would be profoundly beautiful; given the war raging outside, this quiet act of perseverance takes on even greater significance—part protest, part song of mourning'.
Since 2019, Oleh has been a co-author and co-host, together with Alexey Shmurak, of the АШОШ education podcast and vlog covering a wide range of music and sound-related topics in an accessible language, ranging from music history and theory to the phenomenology of groove, problems of form in electronic music to music as violence and sound as a weapon.