DER FINGER - Bestiarium I-IV

Der Finger - Bestiarium I-IV

21 songs
127:59 minutes


Earlier this month, I reviewed the latest album by Disen Gage, a Russian band that usually plays psychedelic / progressive rock, but this time tried their hand on a more experimental approach. One of the members, Anton Efimov, also plays bass in another band called Der Finger, where he is joined by Evgenia Sivkova on saxophone and drums, and occasionally by Edward Sivkov on bass saxophone, clarinette basse and clarinet. They define their style as the crossroads between free jazz and dark jazz, so do expect fully improvised music. On their Bandcamp page, you can download already over twenty outputs, and last year alone they released a quartet of EPs titled Bestiarium, numbered from I to IV, and named after animals: Drache (dragon), Schlange (snake), Hase (hare) and Seeigel (sea urchin).

All albums come with accompanying German texts, like also some of their previous released. The first EP Drache comes with four tracks, with the first two a bit longer and the last two a little shorter, making this at twenty minutes their shortest of the quartet. This seems to be a live recording of Der Finger as a trio, and the dynamic tension between the musicians is quite palpable. The drum is giving a rhythmic foundation, the bass guitar is rumbling over it, and the saxophone and clarinet offer shrieking free jazz textures. The second part, Schlange, is a duo recording, and due to the more limited configuration, feels more industrial, producing a post-apocalyptic atmosphere that sounds like the soundtrack to the end of the world. This EP is nearly forty minutes long, and most of the six tracks are actually quite expansive. On the third EP, Hase, Der Finger is back as a trio, once again delivering six songs that make it a little over half an hour, before the last EP, Seeigel, shows the band, as a duo this time, at their most expansive, with five tracks making it once again to nearly forty minutes. Laterne des Aristoteles is the bandís longest track at exactly ten minutes.

So is this any good? Itís not music in the sense that you might expect structure, melodies, recurring motifs, but rather sonic experimentation that defies common ideas about songwriting. Listening to all four EPs in one go can be quite demanding, as the mood feels often very claustrophobic, but the basic production and the musiciansí uncompromising adhering to their no wave free dark jazz universe makes sure that you will have an aural experience that will stay with you for some time. I canít say that I like it, but I also canít say that I didnít enjoy it. In fact, Bestiarium is a very fascinating ride, and at over two hours a generous look at the oppressive post-industrial jazz noise of these two to three Russians.

Downloads are free, but you are of course free to leave a little something to encourage this band to keep on doing their crazy, genre-defying noise. Fans of experimental jazz with abrasive bass guitar, free-minded drumming and intense woodwinds should definitely stop by, while those expecting catchy pop tunes are definitely at the wrong address.

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