Fingernail

So Backwards

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Fingernail is one Adam DiAngelo, working away in his home studio in Philadelphia constructing and re-constructing beat-conscious sound sculptures that echo the more accessible members of the Warp Records roster. But there is something very mercurial about DiAngelo's work as Fingernail: It's sheer, unadulterated musicality. Using a bevy of musical instruments to both enhance and temper his samplericious intimate hovels in sound, DiAngelo creates actual songs from his instrumental consciousness. Check the opener, "First, Backwards," where a skittering drum machine (that could be a Mattel, swear) engages both synths and an organ to create three simultaneous melody lines and weave them together as one. Weird, sexy little "voices" emerge from these lines, creating a basis for a chord structure that is at once elegiac and celebratory. Pulses and meters intersect in a framework so song-like you can hum it throughout. When DiAngelo moves into ambient territory, as he does on "Santaand," open chords and chimes usher in, ever so slowly, a repetitive mode where single lines slip in and out of the mix. First a note, then three, then seven, and you have the melodic framework for these repeating phrases to create a context for them. On "Engine," where DiAngelo is his most beat-conscious, his experimentalism wins out, as rhythmic patterns criss cross in the center of the mix shortening each other before a wave-form synth enters in from the bottom, using segments from Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in reverse; they pry the rhythm loose from the tune, though in reality it remains clearly audible even though it gets covered over. In essence what separates Fingernail from most of the other bedroom electronics projects out there is the sheer gleefulness in its approach. This guy is as mystified and entertained by the music he's making as listeners are. There is no stony, cold, circuit-driven emotional distance in this material. It is music, first and foremost, rather than sound or sound collage, and it is compelling to listen to on all levels. In other words, the album's a winner from start to finish.

blue highlight denotes track pick