Benjamin Finger: Woods of Broccoli
How Is Annie Records

Frank Benjamin Finger, the Beneva half of Beneva vs. Clark Nova, presents a solo collection of “escapist music” that's not entirely unlike Beneva vs. Clark Nova but is less dense and more laid-back, as gentle breezes blow through the open spaces of many songs. There's an intimate, “bedroom” production feel to the record that strengthens the melancholic and nostalgic mood of the songs; one might think of the album as the sonic equivalent of a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon. A rhythm section is absent on most songs and, consequently, they drift in a laid-back manner, and reach their destinations in their own time. At times, Finger's electroacoustic material feels a bit Múm-like in its open-ended instrumental approach; though songs are built around acoustic guitar or piano, natural and electronic sounds mingle in the mix, and occasional dollops of field recording sounds (outdoor sounds, childrens' voices) and sleepy vocals appear too (“summer's gone, summer's gone” Finger intones during “Failing Watermath”).

The title song, a transporting dreamscape of sparkling guitar lattices and sparse piano reflections accompanied by lush strings, establishes the mood at the outset, and the cascades of tinkling piano melodies and bright, quietly luminescent melodies that follow perpetuate it. “Little Sparkling Mist” drapes Therese Aune's fragile voice over an electronically-assembled backdrop of subtle field recording sounds and acoustic strums, and there's even a hint of Björk in Aune's meandering vocal in “Howl (at the Buffalo Girls).” A hazy setting such as “Cat Yelled Weak Jaws” evokes childhood memories of carefree moments spent lying in country fields on hot summer afternoons. Though there are moments when the material grows more dense and aggressive (the final minute of “Howl (at the Buffalo Girls),” for instance), the accompanying promo text's characterization of the music as a “patchwork of the organic and electric, weaving a soft and warm blanket of sound,” deftly encapsulates the album's sound.

May 2009