Beguiling piano motifs haunt an otherworldly dimension as strings resonate in solemn reverie against a superficial backdrop of electronic miasma. Disquiet ensues in the empty spaces between intervallic leaps as the player purposively caresses dormant keys in simple gestures redolent of Satie in one of his more contemplative moments. Dust shaking off sleeping strings, become electronic particles brought to life from field recordings and artificial resonances that envelope notes as they lift off the keys. This is Benjamin Finger’s 11th studio album, Ghost Figures.
After the deconstructed electronica pop of 10 and the extended jazz of Amarosa Sensitiva, Benjamin surprises with a subtle work of pensive dimensions grounded in the sound of a piano and delicately emphasised through the electronic realm. Piano pieces recorded over the course of two years and processed in the digital realm, Ghost Figures is yet another example of Finger’s ideology where everything goes and yet, there’s no denying there are characteristic traits that are shared across many of Benjamin Finger’s previous albums. There are definitely some similarities to Listen to my nerves hum from 2013, predominantly in his chosen instrument, but that’s where the resemblance begins and ends, with Ghost Figures standing very much on its own in his extensive discography.
Simple arpeggios and figure bass lines float across the expanse of the manual, often emphasising individual motifs through repetition. In simplicity, Benjamin creates empty spaces, extensive vacuums that envelop listeners in isolation with only their feelings as consort. Joy, sorrow, serenity or paranoia, these are all visceral incantations of the solitary mind, and although
Benjamin might offer subtle encouragement into various directions, the journey is all ours to make. The music, when condensed to elementary phrases, offer an unreduced visceral experience for the listener and one gets the severe sense of something completed through each exotic piece as they conclude.
What might have started out as improvisation sessions finds some resolve in Benjamin’s post-production techniques. Field recordings of babbling brooks; the suppression of a sustain pedal released as rhythmical accompaniment; the hiss of some digital process hanging onto notes like morning dew, these are the elements that complete Ghost Figures. They very rarely come to the fore, the piano remaining the star o the show, but without these moments the instrument would be very little more than a hollow shell with a naive, irresolute expression through its keys. Without Benjamin’s nascent subtle touches as he revisits, recomposes and re-contextualises these very raw moments at his chosen instrument, much of that feeling or sensation through listening to Ghost Figures, would have evaporated into nothingness.
Ghost Figures is not the passive, structural listening experience that 10 was, and past the superficiality of the initial musical engagement at the keys, lays a daunting depth waiting to shallow you up and spit you out on the other side. It strips you of any objective reasoning with very little beyond the obvious for cognitive thought as it takes us to that most abstract unexplained dimension in music where emotion and intuition are your only companions.