Broccoli – there’s a vegetable that divides opinion. Some love it, some loathe it. Benjamin Finger’s debut album is likely to provoke similar reactions. Finger (I don’t suppose for a minute that he’s the son of Mr & Mrs Finger) is half of Norwegian electronica duo Beneva vs Clark Nova, but his first solo record is more muted and organic. Gentle piano and guitar provide the melodic framework around which float a variety of micro-samples, laptop trickery and unidentifiable tinkling, scratching and crinkling.
The title track is gorgeous, and by far and away the most solid piece of the ten. It’s a lush and gently nostalgic instrumental, with strings, guitar and breathtakingly sad piano. From there, things begin to fracture. Many of the tracks forgo structure for atmosphere, and resemble a chronically shy child – each of the sounds seemingly hiding behind the others. Some are so delicate that they pass away like snowflakes. Splinters of sound, like dim memories of long ago, are gone even before they register.
Half of the tracks have vocals, but are hardly songs as such. Finger’s own half-mumbled, half-whispered singing appears on “Throat Travelled Yellow Hiii” (all of the tracks have sort of nonsense titles that seem like random words thrown together in a vaguely grammatical way) and “Failing Watermath”, the latter regressing into weird gargles and whoops. Inga Lill brings a childlike, wordless stillness to “Cat Yowled Weak Jaws” and Therese Aune sing/speaks through “Little Sparkling Mist” and “Howl”. Her voice, part Joanna Newsom part Susanna Wallumrød, is a particularly beguiling instrument.
Woods of Broccoli finally reaches some catharsis with the climax of “Howl” where scratchy cello and a throbbing hum build the volume beyond conversation level for the only time. Mostly the album feels ephemeral and barely there. And yet it has a strange kind of magic. Some will find its self-effacement frustrating, but others may be entranced. As for broccoli, I’m happy to eat it till I turn green.
1 Woods of Broccoli 3:41
2 Little Sparkling Mist 4:23
3 Unestablished Gossip 4:12
4 Failing Watermath 5:48
5 Dahoud Scratched His Head 0:50
6 Closely Digested Youth 3:09
7 Throat Travelled Yellow Hiii 6:12
8 Cat Yowled Weak Jaws 4:12
9 Watermelon Deserts 3:10
10 Howl (At the Buffalo Girls) 4:46