If you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Benjamin Finger’s work as a DJ or electronic music producer, you already know that he is an accomplished, imaginative artist. The Oslo, Norway-based composer has been recording music since 2005. That’s alongside his work as photographer and film maker.
This new album – his 11th – is a kind of Benjamin Finger Naked. The 14 pieces are built off of a series of piano improvisations. Finger used a field recorder, which caught me a bit off-guard at first. My initial (gut) reaction was that this was just another sub-standard home recording. Not at all. Finger’s decision to record that way lends the disc a distinct, full-bodied sound. We don’t just hear the piano; we hear it resonate around the room.
It was an inspired decision. Once your ears adjust, you’ll recognize that the nature of the piano recording matches perfectly with the found sounds and other instruments he layers underneath. (Cellist Elling Finnanger Snøfugl deserves special mention.) From start to finish, the album has a distinctly old-world drawing room feel that is organic and personal.
That said, Finger’s compositions are fiercely modern. That has partly to do with his improv approach. But there’s more to it than that. He’s used pedals and filters at various points throughout the album to great effect. Had this album been recorded 80 years ago, Finger would have earned a place among the greats of early musique concrète.
Ghost Figures is available on Oak Editions.