One thing’s for sure – encounters with fear itself will always, consistently and without fail, return again and again during a lifespan. You can count on it. Fear leaves us feeling thoroughly jet-lagged and sends what was a placid heart-rate soaring into the high-voltage, one hundred and fifty-plus bpm levels that would probably send the normally rhythmic, black inked spikes of an ECG off the charts. Traced in black, accurate readings produce double-checks as it takes a firm grip. A pounding heartbeat is the least of your worries; the sensation invites music herself, and her compatriot notes, to play in dissonant territory, and, perhaps, never to leave.
Dissonance lends itself to whatever fear or phobia you may experience, and music is just as susceptible to this shaky set of sensations as we are ourselves. Listen To My Nerves Hum contains any and all currents of electric fear, reverberating throughout its nervous course. All of the emotional pain bleeds through the notes, running down into the thin spaces between the keys and destined for the heart of the piano.
Dissonance is allowed the space to take root, and then ascend into the music, until the blueprint is one etched in shaky hands and troubled plans. It scrapes against your sides, wanting to take you down with it, dragging you down into the depths of melancholic despair. These are the unsettling echoes that you thought you could escape.
Unexpected experimental flourishes, designed to tense every single muscle in the body, course their way through the veins of the piano and possess her frail melodies. Can you hear the door creak open? It absorbs into the very texture of the music, seeping into the cracks left behind by the deserted space, as if this fear were dripping into the very same lines separating the keys on a piano and feeding off the energy of the notes. You can hear them, feel them even, but it’s only when you run your fingers along the keys that you really know they exist. It’s the gap that separates the mental caverns of fear and the physical act of playing, conjuring notes that are pale and diluted of hope.
Hushed feminine vocals do little to dissipate the anxiety, although they are incredibly beautiful. Ethereal in nature, they rush around the air, but their resolutions are for the most part unfinished and land on a sour interval, one that is intentionally left hanging; a scent of the future, the upcoming omen. Repetitive movements descend like a thick, penetrating fog lingering over troubled thoughts. Despite this, a crushing beauty lives and breathes inside the tension – the sweet sound of birdsong runs lightly alongside the slightly shifting piano phrase, countering the melancholia; an endless battle between light and shade. It is a groping hand reaching through the cobwebs for the last, faint strand of promised light.
Sunshine covers ‘Road To Salema’ as best it can – until the female whisper announces some kind of dread, immediately covering the light with an incident that is perhaps only moments, or even seconds, away. Repetition is the key, emphasizing the nervous tension as the piano, deeply textured, flees across the music. Voices of children call out, cars blare their horns – all while the piano runs a staccato-styled series of high notes that inflates anxiety and punctures any kind of melodic revival.
‘Sevilla On Tape’ continues with a haunting, male cry – the previous voice is all grown up – but the cries hold the same desperation. You can’t escape always escape those troubled years, even in adulthood.
You can almost feel the notes shaking. Feel the nerves hum, straddled with the weight of expectancy.
Internal dissonance sets your nerves on end, a relentless stream of notes that shouldn’t go well together. Later on, an incessant, marching rhythm enters – drumroll please – like the intro to a 20th Century Fox movie. This not only increases the intensity, but it’s also a very unique sound, in that it hasn’t really been heard much before. You may not normally associate the two instruments in this kind of setting, but Benjamin Finger breaks down doors with his notes and shatters preconceptions with his melancholic phrases. If the music never got off the ground, Benjamin Finger would still receive full marks for bravery – something that smiles in the face of fear. As every note is played, however, the chains are slackened, until the melodies are able to release themselves fully from the grip. ‘Lapse’ is allowed to soar, but is this freedom? The earlier repetition seemed to hold them back, on the leash, but now they fly away.
Listen To My Nerves Hum faces her phobias. When all of the sunshine pop and major keys have dried up, unsettling situations can return in a flash – and they seep into the music here. The coda feels bittersweet, as precious melodies flirt between the light of harmony and freedom, and the anxious dissonance. It may not be as strong as it once was, but it may be at its most dangerous.
One thing’s for sure – you never wanted to set foot here again. It’s a place you never wanted to return to, and yet, you find yourself facing your struggle.