We all know terms like “limited edition” or “deluxe package” can often be a byword for being lured into paying over the odds for something of very little sentimental or financial worth. Director/photographer and sometime musician Benjamin Finger may not be the first name which comes to mind when offering a unique collectable but his new album is available encased in a hanging sculptural/skeletal bird mobile made from the parts of antique pianos. I think I’m right in saying that may be a first. Not to be outdone, his own music is rather special too.
Loosely described as experimental piano-based pieces, ‘Listen To My Nerves Hum’ packs a lot of ideas from the opening Satie-like melancholy versus nightmarish effects of ‘Birthslides’ to the marching drums of ‘Ode To Blissa’. The experimental side comes from a range of field recordings and samples; from minimal ambience to jarring noise. It is noticeable, however, that when the arrangements are subtle, Finger hits the most moving notes. The child-like female backing on ‘Consonance Of Fear’ is one of the most haunting tracks, closely followed by the stark, unadorned ‘Leaving Linjevegen’. That said, the unlikely pairing of piano keys and a firework party on ‘Road To Salema’ proves to be a compelling highlight too. Not everything works, (the twiddly keyboard playing for ‘Sevilla On Tape’ quickly irritates) but it’s a rare false turn on an otherwise atmospheric journey.
As much as one can admire Finger’s audacious attempts to make apparently contradictory sounds work together, it is his skills as a pianist which characterise the best moments on the album. Moreover, the fluid piano melodies within the special casing demonstrate that it’s not all about the packaging.
Joe Frawley, Erik Satie