Benjamin Finger creates intricate multi-dimensional worlds from the intimate crawl spaces of electronica and jazz in his latest work, Amorosa Sensitiva. By the time we reach Whirlpolbrainpoolin, the composer has unravelled a story that takes a dramatic turn as an improvised saxophone and double bass disrupt the bed of tranquillity the electronic components try to force upon the listener. We are jolted from our false sense of security, and everything is immediately awkward as huge intervallic leaps and harsh unforgiving tones show little of the restraint that’s preceded it in previous tracks. Like the girl running up the staircase however, there is nothing you can possibly do to change the course of the narrative, and all that’s left to do is sit back and admire the execution as the expressive improvisations of the sax and bass come together in a magnificent compositional form. Benjamin Finger’s electronic manipulations manage to find a unique balance between the two methods, something very rarely achieved in the landscape of unrestrained expressiveness that would generally follow a passage like this.
It’s a long way off from the start of the record, where Ben takes the smallest elements in music and weaves it into a dense Technicolor dream that consumes the literal world of the listener and transports him/her into the deepest realms of their subconscious. The opening credit, Headspincrawl often hints at the discomfort to come later with some uncomfortable dissonances appearing as the parts cascade around each other, sweet melodies getting caught in the sludgy bass drones, as they click and glitch like a surrealist post-modern nightmare waiting in the flanks – a melancholic and unruly presence just waiting to spill over into Whilrbrainpoolin. Benjamin Finger’s music is gentle and evocative, withholding deep mysteries for the adventurous listener to explore, past the effective accessible layer that first greets him or her. It’s that contrast between the simplicity of the development and the rich layers of sound design that mark Amorosa Sensitiva’s attraction. It’s exactly quite effective when the pulses of the acoustic instruments juxtapose the electro-acoustic parts, while neither is allowed to dominate the other. At times beautifully arranged strings join forces with the slight squeaks and squawks of the glitch electronics, in compositions that sees noise meet 19th century impressionism like they are old familiar friends.
The improvisation that occurs on occasion grounds the airy expressiveness of the electronics, breaking the quietude from time to time with an erratic staccato impulse, before falling into the obscure dreamland Ben has created at the core of Amorosa Sensitiva. Simple harmonic progressions billow forth in arrangements that can often grow in density, with majestic overtones the happy result, as the different parts culminate in the narrative that reaches its pivotal point at Whirlbrainpoolin.
From that point the album unwinds like a spiral staircase, with Bum finger notes going back to Satie via Pierre Henry Schaeffer. What is incredibly striking, is the ghost of the improvised saxophone from the previous track puts in an appearance amongst the forest of subtle noise. As it trails off in the distance it creates some dissonances with the piano’s softer touches, introducing the feedback of the guitar as it goes. You get the feeling that everything that Benjamin Finger has thrown into mix, is completely essential and relevant in its context and only that context in which it was assigned. Amorosa Sensitiva is a particularly well-thought out album, lulling the listener into a false optimism where needed, and foregoing predictability when things might have gotten a little bit stale elsewhere.
At the same time however, everything about it is capricious, and you’ll find yourself deep in thought as you come to the end of Darnskullgreyness, perplexed by the sonic experience that you’d just encountered, while at the same time completely enthralled, waiting to hear more. Amorosa Sensitiva, is not something that will fly past you at night without making the slightest if impression. It’s an album that will irrevocably affect you on multiple levels.