Benjamin Finger, X-ray Three: Amorosa Sensitiva

finger_amorosaThere is a point in “Headspincrawl Kopi,” the first track on Amorosa Sensitiva, where I got the sense that Benjamin Finger was just reaching up into the air around him, grabbing the next sound that floated through, and weaving it smoothly into in increasingly complex flow. Sounds were just appearing. A sequencer bass line had found its way in somewhere. There were little squibbles of sound and snipped vocal pads. And still it wasn’t done morphing, because I’d swear “Three Blind Mice” drops in there on strings before things start to deconstruct. This is the overarching sense of the album, a patchwork of sound sources pulled through themselves over and over to realize fresh forms. Some of it threatens to derail into experimental chaos, but that’s also germaine to Benjamin Finger’s style. He doesn’t often leave sound or structure uncontested; he needs to pull at it to see what he can make of it. He bullies it into dissonance to make it find its own way back. In doing so, he challenges the listener to stay with him, and that kind of perseverance can pay off. Particularly on this album, his underlying structures and thoughts are soft and melodic. Warm strings paint the surface of “When Face Was Face Kopi” and “Waltz in Clay Kopi.” The latter track adds piano, soft and graceful, but it has to work its way past a barrier of reverse echo. When Finger hits the last few notes unadorned, the cleaner, simple sound has real impact. Less adventurous listeners might head for the exits when the wild free-jazz sax of “Whirlbrainpoolin” storms in, but if you’ve got an ear for it, stick with it as Are Watle’s mad spirals do battle with a clash and clatter of drums. (I hear thoughts of Archie Shepp hiding in here.) This track might be overlong by a minute or two, but as an expressionist moment, it’s got something going on. In my fairly limited exposure to Finger’s work, I have come to expect the sudden turns, like the appearance of gruff and deeply reverberated guitar in “Bum Finger Notes.” But I’ve also learned to listen closely. There are no spare sounds in these compositions, and the foundation of his pieces is typically a beautiful melody, there to be not just subverted but coaxed to a different standard of aural beauty. Accept the challenge and give this a listen.

Available from Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records.

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