(Sellout! Music, 2016)
Oslo-based electronic composer/producer Benjamin Finger has a lengthy discography to his name, one we’ve covered here at Critical Masses from time to time. Actually, 2015 was a particularly fertile period for Finger, and we ended up reviewing two of his four full-length releases (because, you know, I’m only one man – well, we were two men at that point, but hey), the Amarosa Sensitiva LP (Blue Tapes & X-Ray Records) and my personal favorite, Pleasurably Lost (Eilean Rec.). Sadly not reviewed were Mood Chaser and Motion Reverse – they deserved to be, surely, and here is my thumbs-up recommendation from the future. Both are as good as the rest of the output.
What drew me to Benjamin Finger’s catalog was his ability to work within the ambient schema and craft albums that toyed with the genre while subverting it in sometimes subtle, sometimes grand ways. There was so much material to comb through, and so many revelations along the way. Since the end of last year, though, Finger has seemingly found himself in clubs more than basement electronics situations, and the introduction of rhythm as a defining element to his music is a new one, interesting and welcoming as it is abrupt, a textural adjustment that he proves just as capable at producing as his earlier work. I don’t want to mince words on it though – Finger sounds just as intensely comfortable within the confines of these new compositions as he always has in his other work, and the results are never less than enjoyable.
Perhaps I should’ve seen it coming – his EP from earlier this year, 9,5, which featured a dog shitting on its mirror image on the cover (perhaps a self-jab poking fun at forward movement?), acted as a dance party in miniature, with a disco banger called “Pˈɒp mjˈuːzɪk” segueing into “Party Corpse (Extended),” and rounding itself out with the twitchy comedown of “Orange Monday.” This theme is continued on “Freefloater,” 10’s 7.5-minute leadoff track and slow-burning rave starter during which synth glitches become a 4/4 euphoria, a generous dose of electro-funk that would make all the sense in the world coming from a DFA release. From there the comparison refuses to go away. The lovely synth-patch mover “Geek the Freak” transitions sublimely into the greezy “Stretchpantz,” though not to be confused with Brother JT’s amazing “Sweatpants,” even if they may have some sort of spiritual connection (or not).
Killer head-nodders and booty shakers abound throughout the rest of the album, like the heavy low-end work of “Jive Ass Screamers” or the Mortal Kombat chaos of “Kiddie Ninja Weekend.” Everything is filtered through a European nightlife lens, and whether or not it’s the Scandinavian influence – I can only imagine Oslo’s clubs are a little more subdued than Madrid’s, what with the climate difference and all – there’s a bit more introspection that creeps into the dense rush, perhaps a signifier of more intelligent themes than simply getting one’s butt wiggling. I may be right on that count – the stylistic left turn of Ghost Figures is out in November, and it promises a return to the days of Pleasurably Lost, at least in mood if not in execution. I’m stoked either way.
Here’s 9,5 to stream while you read here. Buy it, too!