F ingers | Hide Before Dinner (Blackest Ever Black 2015)

And now, suburban Melbourne bedroom malaise. Blackest Ever Black’s identity gets more complex everyday, like an organic thing, like a human being. It has the capacity to contaminate the artists it works with, to embrace them into its own parallel life and conversations, just like a human being. This little gem, Hide Before Dinner, comes from the Carla Dal Forno / Tarquin Manek duo who brought us that intense Mince Glace 12’’ as Tarcar last year on BEB (footnote: given the topical pain of these days, listening to those odd horror-exotica-soaked two minutes of ‘Refugees’ now is something like a civic duty). They’re joined by Sam Karmel, who had collaborated with the two on what we imagine was this project’s pre-incarnation, Fingers Pty Ltd, which put a tape out on Night People in 2013. They made a kind of domestic hushed post-punk, melancholy and eccentric, but very discreet. It’s as if their new home and set up as F ingers were giving them some courage to push out of discreet.

Hide Before Dinner could be defined as pertaining to the most sophisticated, secret side of lo-fi bedroom sonorities – more insomniac than ‘hypnagogic’ if you will, more phantasmagoric than soporific. As the press release rightly reads, it comes ‘with flashes of horror’: dazed, yes, but wide-eyed intense. It’s also a rather heterogeneous record: while clangy reverberating guitars, a moody post-punk bass, a plaintive, distant female voice remain throughout, across the seven tracks here a number of styles, atmospheres, sensations appear and disappear. Although unified by a concept – a dark meander through childhood memories – it does swing, like festoons in the late-summer wind, and produces a catalogue of sonic possibilities along its way.

The record is hypnotic, and of all the bedroom-related words that’s perhaps the most important: for once there’s nothing exterior going on

‘Escape into the Bushes’ is a distorted, rattly intro which only partly presages the complexity of the album to come. Here and elsewhere texture is key, the lightness of the ethereal but masterfully never ‘pretty’ voice is set off by jangling guitars and a huffy, slow bass which guides nicely to the eerier thumps of the meditative and echoey ‘Mum’s Caress After Trip’. Then, the album reveals a totally different face: ‘Tantrum Time’ is a dark-as-hell thing, shivering down your spine with otherworldly pulses, deformed electronic voices, ragged loopy spirally sounds; this aesthetic returns in the more meditative but equally haunting ‘Useless Treasure’ and finds its ultimate peak on the tragic shores of ‘Under the House Hard to Breathe’, which wouldn’t sound out of place next to something like Lycia’s early ‘90s offerings. The record ends circularly, by returning to the lo-fi thunderiness of its opening, back to chant-like voices and to a carefully crafted weave of ever so distantly watery synths and big low jangling strums.

The visions Hide Before Dinner produces vary, but the record as a whole is hypnotic, and of all the bedroom-related words that’s perhaps the most important: it’s a very transporting, slow, trance-like listen, meant for intimacy, for meditation, where for once there’s nothing exterior going on. And as a record made from accessing memories, it’s amazing how universally ‘about memory’ a record made with personal memories can be. I listened to this for a few hours of solitary attempts to throw things out before I move home, carefully digging through forgotten and remembered bits of paper: about three spins in it dawned on me how the record I was listening to was speaking very accurately, very  profoundly, about the painful but necessary nature of my – and everyone’s – endeavour.

Read at Juno Plus: http://www.junodownload.com/plus/2015/09/16/f-ingers-hide-before-dinner/

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