Fingathing: glitchy astral-funk crafted from a turntable and a double bass
January 27, 2012 12:43 PM   Subscribe

"I suppose quite a few of you are gonna be sorta wondering what the hells going on and who the hell we are, em, but um, we're called Fingathing and we're from Manchester. My name's Peter Parker and I play, like, one turntable, and this dude over here is Sneaky, and he plays the double bass. And basically that's it. That's how we make our music."

As a youth, Peter Parker (real name: Dan Baxter) was into electro and hip-hop, spun and scratched on turntables. He was a member of Cutting Crew turntablist collective, alongside Static and ex-DMC World Champion, DJ Noize. As a solo turntablist he got as far as placing 3rd in a UK DMC DJ Championship, where Mark Rae was a judge. The second half of the duo is Sneaky (real name: Simon Houghton), a classically trained musician, with a formal education on cello and double bass. He went on to become involved in music clubs, playing as a backing musician, touring with the Rae & Christian live band, where Sneaky met Peter Park.

With their powers combined, they formed Fingathing, releasing their first track in 1999 as part of the 2CD Central Heating 2 compilation on Mark Rae's now defunct Grand Central Records label. They followed the track with the 2 Player EP in July 2000 (streaming tracks: Head To Head, Ffathead, Parker Plays Pacaddict, Drunken Master, and Ffling), and the album The Main Event in November 2000 (streaming tracks: Check It Out, Big Monsters Crush Cities, Just Practise ft. Mr Scruff, You Fly Me, Slippin ft. Veba, Crowd Pleasers ft. DJ Noize; full album on Bandcamp).
"Don’t be afraid, this is not another undigestible DJ scratch album.... The Main Event is a primarily instrumental hip-hop album, each track featuring dizzying amounts of scratching and turntable tricks. Sneaky’s bass arrangements bring elements of complex theory as well as three-chord punk guitar to compliment the sharp production of every piece."
In June 2002, the duo released their second album, Superhero Music (streaming tracks: Ogre, Drunken Master II, Criminal Robots, Wasting Time, Haze, Once Upon A Time In The East, Superhero Music, Spacecrumbs, Don't Turn Around)
"The cutups have grown up in the two years since their debut, The Main Event, with inspiration coming more from the somber material of DJ Shadow than the crazed comic book shenanigans of fellow turntablist Kid Koala. As such, the classically trained Sneak is given much more room to demonstrate his skills with a double bass, while Parker's Technics trickery is kept from the comics in favor of a role that is best described as slick sample manipulation."
The duo caught the ear of DJ Shadow, and he invited them to open for his UK tour (live video clip; audio from a 32 minute live set, which is also the first link of this post).

Jump ahead another two years for the biggest album release of the duo's career so far. Fingathing and the Big Red Nebula Band gets further distribution, thanks to Ninja Tune releasing the album in North America, and adding on a second CD with 5 tracks taken from the prior two albums. Fingathing also have a solid concept behind the album:
"The latest concept is aliens. Not just any old aliens, but a bunch of musical cosmic beings who happen to excel at playing the exact kind of inter-planetary cinematic music that Fingathing are known for.

The duo 'met' them (bear with us on this) after being fired into the cosmos in steel coffins following the faking of their own deaths on their last LP. Obviously they then recorded an album with their new extra-terrestrial friends and brought the results back to the UK."
The UK 1CD version is streaming on Bandcamp, and the whole Ninja Tune 2CD set is streaming on MySpace, or you can hear a few tracks on Soundcloud (Walk in Space, ReAnimo, Themes From The Big Red, Rock The Whole Planet, Cluster Buster, SYNERGY, and the hidden track from the end of Return to ERT).

And then Fingathing went (mostly) quiet, as the duo (sort of) split to do their own things. To keep things interesting, Sneaky released two limited-edition CDr mixes on their website in 2005: the Biscuit Mix and the Bloody Axe mix, and in 2006 Peter Parker released his Life after Death Mix in a similar fashion. Since then, Sneaky posted the Biscuit mix and Bloody Axe mix online with tracklists, and Pete's mix can be found, floating around the 'net. Also in 2006, Fingathing released one EP and three "bundles" on Artists First, an online digital music store that has since converted into a ringtone shop.

In 2008, Sneaky debuted some tracks from his then-forthcoming album through an EP he released on Artists First. Feel Like A King... Pluck A String, which he released on Big Chill the following year. Big Chill put the album in the new genre of "wood hop, where real instruments and genuine virtuosity, collide lovingly with samples, production anarchy, DJ brainwaves, jazz chops and some ace collaborations. " The album, including bonus 12th track, is streaming on Bandcamp, or you can hear the bonus-less version on Soundcloud. In 2010, Sneaky tried (but failed) to crowdfund a vinyl release of the Feel Like A Remix LP (streaming on Soundcloud, and MySpace).

Peter Parker created an alter-ego, Parkertron, which is associated with the "party band" The Real Dolls (named for synthetic head and body replicas that are used when actors or actresses get blown up [in Hollywood movies], not RealDoll life-size sex dolls (SFW, Wikipedia)). The group released an EP in 2006, and Parkertron made a mixtape in 2009 for a further taste of the Real Dolls style. Their self-titled album from 2010 is streaming on Bandcamp.

In March 2010, Peter Parker and Sneaky posted a new video, declaring that Fingathing is not dead. They posted a few more short clips of the duo in action, or chatting about their progress. In December 2010, Fingathing debuted some new tracks on a Groovement podcats interview/mix, with some expectations that their new album would be coming out in the following year. But in 2011, the only thing that they released was the Man Made Monster single (streaming on Soundcloud, and available as a free download, if you provide your email address).

The slow progress may be because the group is currently unsigned and are on their own at the moment, "like Bill Bixby in Incredible Hulk or Stallone in First Blood." (Related: the Apocalypso EP -- 4 of the 5 tracks are on Bandcamp, and the missing track is on MySpace: When Things Catch Up feat. Buck 65)

Final fun: the silent 3rd member of Fingathing is Chris "Cavetroll" Drury, the graphic artist whose style is seen on nearly everything Fingathing.
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
The "glitchy astral-funk" tag is from this Pitchfork review of Fingathing and the Big Red Nebula Band.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:44 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I totally don't want to crap in the thread, especially not so early, but...
[("SO DON'T!" ?) no, really, if you don't want a derail, don't build one off of it]:

I just never put time into a band that has an unabashedly, deliberately stupid/childish sounding name.

See Pomplamoose, who are actually a bad example, since they're a cover band, but.. same consequence. (ie. "God, your music is so fucking great-- why have you crapped on yourself with that pathetically ridiculous name??")
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:56 PM on January 27, 2012

Sneaky seems to do more to promote himself, as he has posted some short videos to Vimeo, including live clips of Fingathing, and "to keep your ear cockles warm until [his] solo debut LP [dropped]," he sent out an email to fans with links to four mixes of his, three of which still work, more than 4 years later:

* Sneaky's Berlin Soul 2007 Mix
* Sneaky's Biscuit Mix
* Sneaky's Bloody Axe Mix

And I left out some live show visuals from the Christ Drury section: New Live One, Dance of the Dead, Walk in Space, Synergy, Scrap, Ogre, Offsbring (warning: flashing graphics), Apache, and animated birds (possibly not a Drury creation)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on January 27, 2012

herbplarfegan: why have you crapped on yourself with that pathetically ridiculous name??"
PurJus: What's behind the name "FINGATHING". Is it just the "thing with the fingers" ...?
Peter Parker: ...on the turntable and the bass. It speaks for itself. We are not going to call ourselves "The Dark Cloud" or "The Morning Sunshine" or something that's supposed to be really deep and have some kind of meaning. We are very straight forward. We are what we are. We're not trying to be anything or trying to have some mad concept. The concept speaks for itself. We are just doing what we are doing. But obviously, because it's got a new sound and everything, people are picking up on it. The goal is to play in every country all over the world and at the moment, at a steady rate we doing really well.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:02 PM on January 27, 2012

posted by filthy light thief at 1:07 PM on January 27, 2012

herbplarfegan: "I just never put time into a band that has an unabashedly, deliberately stupid/childish sounding name."

Yeah I mean what the hell is a "Led Zeppelin" supposed to be anyway?
posted by idiopath at 1:22 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Could you pick a single track (or two), there, flt, to help me gauge my interest in diving deeper? There's, ummm, a lot of content up there.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:28 PM on January 27, 2012

I just never put time into a band that has an unabashedly, deliberately stupid/childish sounding name.

This is quite possibly the dumbest argument for not listening to a band that I have ever heard.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:44 PM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

The 'childish name' thing brings to mind a radio dj talking a few years ago about some new band he was really excited to play. Can't remember who it was, but they had a basic rockband type name, 'The Somethings', but the dj pointed out that they seemed to put all their energy into the music. They only realized at the last second they needed a name to put on the recording, and just opened a dictionary picking a word at random. Anyways, there's some truth in that, at least to me. I don't give a fuck how you brand yourself so long as the finished product is something that stirs emotion in me. If I were to list a hierarchy, it'd be something like:

1.Quality Music
2.Appropriate Production
3.Creative Album Artwork
4.Whatever The Fuck You Name Yourself

Epic post (as usual) filthy light thief! thanks.
posted by mannequito at 1:46 PM on January 27, 2012

That's why I never listen to Steely Dan.
posted by deanklear at 1:55 PM on January 27, 2012

Ah, damned. Another forgotten collaboration of note: Graciela Maria collaborated with Robot Koch and Sneaky on a beautiful album. Graciela Maria and Sneaky live, and a studio track that features more Robot Koch-style electronics. Album on Bandcamp.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:13 PM on January 27, 2012

Key sample tracks:

* The Main Event: Big Monsters Crush Cities (hip-hop-type track with samples and such, plus beautiful bass)
* Superhero Music: Wasting Time (downtempo with a smoother blend of turntables and bass)

!!! Big Red Nebula Band: Walk In Space (my prime example of Fingathing being damned awesome -- funky music, good samples, beautiful use of bass) !!!

* Feel Like a King (Sneaky's solo album): Beduija (eastern-influenced sound, well-crafted, but note that the rest of the album isn't like this -- it's a nicely diverse album, IMO)
* Many Places (Graciela María's album): Santa Ana afternoons (live) -- definitely sounds like Sneaky's basswork on this track

I'm not familar with Pete's non-Fingathing work, as I just found out about his life since Big Red Nebula Band today =)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:29 PM on January 27, 2012

What kind of band names themselves after bugs?

It's not even spelled correctly. What, is that supposed to be a pun? So lame.
posted by KChasm at 3:48 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Heh. I totally misread the name at first, not as Finga-thing, but as Fin-gathing, which I naturally assumed was a small neighborhood in London.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2012

Listening and dancing to music is AWESOME!
posted by erniepan at 11:28 AM on January 28, 2012

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