Benjamin Finger: The Bet
The last time Frank Benjamin Finger crossed our path was with his late-2013 release on Time Released Sound, Listen To My Nerves Hum, a largely piano-based affair dramatically different in character from the Beneva vs. Clark Nova albums Finger's issued with Rudi Simmons. But the latest Benjamin Finger effort, The Bet (Watery Starve Press's first vinyl release), sees the artist moving away from the pianocentrics of the recent solo outing and gravitating closer towards the oddball eccentricity of the Norwegian duo project.
There are similarities between the two solo releases, however. Both Listen To My Nerves Hum and The Bet include sounds of piano, tape loops, field recordings, and vocals by Inga-Lill Farstad, though the new release also includes cello contributions from Elling Finnanger Snofugl and a vocal appearance by Lynn Fister. Once again Finger's pieces come across as dreamlike collages, brain-addling plunges down his personal rabbit hole that end up in wonderlands teeming with surreal detail.
The album's style comes quickly into focus when “Faintheadedness” scatters Farstad's electronically altered voice across a lilting piano figure. That overture's experimental bent is granted full reign in the nine settings that follow, from the thick forest of dissonant shards within “Kid Dreaming Landscapes,” where a piano motif collides with raw string shudders, to the crepuscular vocal murmurs hurtling across the processed spaces of “Rosencrans Exit.” Smothered in crackle and mist, “Sulfurous Fog” gradually opens its doors to witness rhythmic cross-winds blowing alongside string plucks and ethereal whispers, whereas a rare moment of calm surfaces when Fister's angelic breaths blow alongside ambient piano patterns in “Nasal Breakdown.”
In Finger's world, a beat pattern or conventional instrument sound is a rare sighting, but one does materialize now and then, if only fleetingly (see “Angel-less Halo”). Such moments lend an air of stability to the material as well as imbue it with a sense of coherence and continuity. As should be obvious by now, Finger's eccentric music changes form constantly as it pushes its way through his untamed cornucopias. The best way—perhaps the only way—to describe The Bet is as a surrealistic excursion or psychedelic trip; in that regard, a song title such as “Horizonless Brain” seems especially apropos.