Agitated Atmosphere: Benjamin Finger – The Bet

photo by Asbjørn Nilssen

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Benjamin Finger.

Win: Mastered by James Plotkin
Place: Released by Watery Starve
Show: Benjamin Finger is removed from current Western musical proclivities

The Bet is the latest from Norway’s Benjamin Finger and continues down a path where every genre is up for dissection. It’s a careful, timely display of well-placed cuts, gentle splaying, and academic study. Unlike the horse racing analogy used to introduce this review, The Bet is better placed on the long-term marathon runner than the mile-and-a-quarter sprinter.

This is study of musical currents unattached from accept norms and practice. Finger does approach his compositions from a known tact: everything is created from instruments most audiences are all too familiar. How and when each is used, however, is the keen sensibility inherent to Finger’s work. No idea is rushed; but what could be taken as a plod is really a serene trot. When you race, you miss the little bits of scenery and background action.

The Bet hedges itself that its audience prefers the carefully minute to the rush toward the finish line. Rarely does Finger speed up his idyllic pace, reflecting on why a note is played (and held) at a precise moment. There is meaning, and though no one may understand the implanted, their own projections only enhance Finger’s exploration of melody as something more than an oval meant for quick traversing. Everything has purpose and though it may crowd the starting gate, Finger knows that some sound will fall back, some will never even make it out of the gate, and maybe even a buck or throw-off will occur to disrupt the order.

Bad horse racing analogies aside (well, here comes one more), The Bet is truly a thoroughbred. It’s been raised to deconstruct what we know of melody and disrupt our expectations. It’s subtle but to be fair, the days of obvious discontent came and went 30 years ago with leftovers and holdouts now being predictable. Race this LP around your record player for a while and it will begin to all make sense.

Justin Spicer is a freelance editor and journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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