Benjamin Finger: For You, Sleepsleeper
How Is Annie Records

For You, Sleepsleeper, Frank Benjamin Finger's follow-up to last year's solo debut Woods of Broccoli, is as hyperactive and kaleidoscopic as Sombunall and Dramadadatic, the albums issued by his other band Beneva vs. Clark Nova. Though the new album's title suggests that it's been conceived with a dozing infant in mind, the music hardly suggests a consciousness settled by sleep but more one caught within the turbulent swirl of dreamstates. That dichotomy is already evident in the opening track, “Infants Blue Gestures,” when serenading piano plinks and swirls of synthesizer washes share space with hyperactive breakbeats that constantly threaten to intrude. When a quasi-“Firestarter”-styled beat suddenly joins a slow trumpet figure (and subsequently Are Watle's saxophone wail) during “Drowned in Elbows,” you'll think you've somehow landed in the middle of a Ben Neill album, and though “Chunks of Plaster” brings the volume level down a notch or two, the activity level remains high even when the sounds are gentler and more soothing—for the first three minutes at least, as beats thereafter elevate the intensity level to one matching the rest of the album.

Admittedly, there are moments of relative quietude: the title track offers a beatless weave of gentle glockenspiel and piano melodies, all of it awash in synthetic swirls, and “Umbrella On Your Smile” caps the album with a pretty, lullaby-styled epilogue. Nevertheless, “Hopscotch Eyestitch” distills the album's character into a simple song title, as For You, Sleepsleeper's mercurial pieces change shape from one moment to the next; it's the kind of project, in other words, where it's not uncommon for beats to change from charging drum'n'bass to downtempo hip-hop in the blink of an eye (“Obscene Meconium”). In the case of “Hopscotch Eyestitch,” long trailing tones, pulsating synth patterns, and a driving techno groove are juxtaposed in a way that makes it sound like they're separate elements sandwiched together. As a result, the album is less experienced as having individual tracks with distinct identities than as an overloaded, forty-three minute stream of sparkling collagistic design. A sensorial and at times madcap cornucopia of beats, vocal effects, electroacoustic sounds, and field recordings, For You, Sleepsleeper possesses an amophous fluidity that's like the flickering flow of dream content. Don't be surprised if your head's spinning by the time the last tune plays.

October 2010