We reviewed Fink’s Fink Meets The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
You may not have heard of the name ‘Fink’ – the stage name of Cornish songwriter and DJ Fin Greenall, but the probability is that you will have heard some of his works if you are at all eclectic in your music tastes. Greenall has written in collaboration with John Legend (he co-wrote 2008’s ‘Green Light’ which featured Andre 3000), Professor Green and Latin music star Ximena Sarinana amongst many others (those ‘others’ including Amy Winehouse, whose posthumously released ‘Half Time’ he co-wrote). However, with Fink, and his touring band, Fin Greenall has found his own personal niche, creating a blend of blues, dub and ambience which has hitherto spawned four albums, led to his music peppering many American TV mainstays and garnered him many influential fans (including Gilles Peterson, who upon hearing second album ‘Distance and Time’ commissioned Greenall for one of his late night Maida Vale sessions).
On April 29th 2012, Greenall, drummer Tim Thornton and bassist Guy Whittaker collaborated with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a production of several of their most celebrated tracks. Hitherto, the concert was only available to those lucky enough to be in the audience, or who viewed it on the night live via a specially commissioned iPad application. However, label Ninja Tine have honed and refined the audio recording taken on the evening, creating ‘Fink Meets The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’, a 9 track LP crossing genre boundaries and challenging perceptions. The album fires with a staggering version of Berlin Sunrise, previously from the acclaimed album ‘Perfect Darkness’. A previously raw, and quite bare acoustic guitar track is enriched effortlessly by elegant orchestral crescendos. Greenall’s earthy vocals are perfectly complemented by such the grandiose, swirling backdrop, making for an emotional and aurally stimulating experience all of its own.
The rest of the LP does not disappoint. Goosebumps can’t fail to prickle the skin during the string interventions on the stunningly strained ‘Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us’ – a track where Greenall’s pitch perfect drawl is particularly effective. The percussive, guitar driven blues flavoured tracks ‘Wheels’ and ‘This Is The Thing’ are performed unaccompanied; the former by just Greenall and his acoustic, and all the more affective for it, the raw power of vocal upon 6-string hitting right at the heart of the listener. If you are a particular fan of pure orchestral music, the RCO perform Rouse’s ‘The Infernal Machine’ and Ives’ ‘The Unanswered Question’, although admittedly the placement of these instrumental interludes does seem slightly disjointed when aligned with Greenall’s music as performed by the conglomerate. However, the prowess of the orchestra is beyond question, so certainly dip your toe in the classical water with this recording if you are inclined. The closing track duo of ‘Perfect Darkness’ and ‘Sort of Revolution’ once again meld seamlessly the power of Fink’s songwriting, with the soft beauty of the orchestra. Taking previously naked, brooding tracks and creating a deliciously crafted wall of sound around Thornton’s elevated percussion and Greenall’s ever-passionate words. The latter is particularly striking, almost playful, and indiscriminately uplifting, while maintaining the deliciously disjointed staccato charm of the 2009 original.
All in all, this is a stunning piece of art from an extraordinary orchestra, two experienced touring musicians and a singer/songwriter who reaches out and touches you with a voice and melodies that go beyond even the stunning pieces he has created for other artists. ‘We’re going to make a little bit of noise…shall we?’, he exclaims, as the group bring ‘Sort of Revolution’ to a close. We did, you should. We love his noise, and we think you will too.