“A life in music is all about little victories – the first record, the first sell-out show, the first ‘bus’ tour… if you get through these challenges, new benchmarks always appear.” Fink
Resurgam – meaning “I Shall Rise Again” – is the brand new album from Fink: UK-born, Berlin-based founding singer-songwriter/musician Fin Greenall, alongside bandmates Tim Thornton (drums, guitar) and Guy Whittaker (bass). Its title is taken from the Latin inscription on a chapel painting in Greenall’s native Cornwall; its tone embodies the irrepressible spirit of these latest tracks. Recorded with pioneering producer Flood (PJ Harvey, U2, Foals, Warpaint, The Killers) at his Assault & Battery studios in London, Resurgam represents another vital benchmark for an outfit who have always been intrepid in their musical scope, international in their reach (including their hugely celebrated, innovative live tours), and soulful at their core.
“As soon as Flood’s name came into the mix, it gave us new impetus to raise our game again,” says Greenall. “Sonically, what he does is crazy, and there’s no such thing as a demo; every moment could work. So you play right to the edge, until it’s time to go.”
This also marks Fink’s latest release on the R’COUP’D imprint created with the support of Ninja Tune: a label whose creative bond with Fink has continually flourished since the release of the turntable-fuelled Fresh Produce (2000), and their debut album as a band, Biscuits For Breakfast, (2006). Resurgam forms a distinctly bold contrast from its predecessors: Fink’s richly multi-layered studio albums have included Distance And Time (2007), Sort Of Revolution (2009), Perfect Darkness (2011) and Hard Believer (2014), in addition to fruitful side-projects: the electronic reinventions of Horizontalism (2015), and the rootsier road trip of Fink’s Sunday Night Blues Club, Vol.1, out earlier this year. At the same time, Resurgam’s sinewy funk and deep reflections build beautifully from the immersive flow of Fink’s catalogue:
“My experience with the blues record allowed me to retool everything as a singer, player and producer,” explains Greenall. “With Resurgam, there’s loads more performance-based stuff, and loads more feeling over technical ability. You really harness what you’re trying to say. The tracks have a journey and a confidence that we’ve been building up to for a while. The concept of ‘I’ll rise again, I’ll be back’ fitted the whole vibe of this record.”
Resurgam’s title track (and opening number) sounds like a statement of intent; Greenall’s vocals are characteristically strong, tender and persuasive, while the intimacy and bass-heavy attitude sets the tone for an album that he says is “very assertive and more front-footed than anything we’ve done before”. The track also summons a physical setting that has recurred throughout Greenall’s own life:
“When I was writing the song, I kept thinking of this little church next to the beach in Cornwall, where I grew up,” he says. “I’ve always loved its environment; it’s about 900 years old and very romantic, and there’s a big painting on the wall of this beautiful little chapel, with the inscription: ‘Resurgam’.
“When you travel a lot, you’re freed from the constraints of your own territory. But you also tend to collect these places that you go back to.”
Greenall’s musical passions are deep-rooted and exceptionally far-ranging; he spent formative years playing around with his family's record collection and his father’s four-track recorder, before secretly teaching himself to play guitar (and later, putting his student loan towards synths and a sampler). Having made his mark as an independent spirit, he has also proved an inspirational collaborator, whether co-writing and producing for a teenage Amy Winehouse (one of their tracks, the Salaam Remi-produced ‘Half-Time’, appears on Winehouse’s posthumous collection, Lioness: Hidden Treasures), or working alongside US soul star John Legend (on Legend’s 2008 album Evolver, as well as the soundtrack album to the Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave). Fink’s cinematic work elsewhere also reflects his strength for superlative storytelling and vivid delivery; take tracks such as the beautifully brooding ‘Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us’ (taken from Fink’s 2011 album Perfect Darkness, and memorably used in Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King biopic, Selma), or Fink’s music for William H Macy’s 2014 movie Rudderless.
When Fink are not on the road – and they will be again soon, with a European tour of more than 60 dates already booked for Resurgam this year, reaching more than 65,000 people across 19 countries – Greenall is now based in Berlin. Distance has never kept him apart from long-time friends and bandmates Thornton and Whittaker: fellow musical visionaries, who have also become integral players in Fink’s songwriting and creative process. The trio form a tight creative unit with a fearless approach, whether they’re experimenting with conceptual stage design (for 2011’s Perfect Darkness tour), or performing classical reworkings in concert with Amsterdam’s renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (which yielded a live album, Fink Meets The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, on Ninja Tune in 2013). Since Fink’s first ever gig, at London’s ICA in 2005, there have been well over 500 acclaimed live shows, across an incredible range of settings, from a bingo hall to the BBC Proms. For their 2017 tour dates, Fink will feature a dynamic expanded line-up, including an additional drummer/percussionist.
“I think that with all bands that have been together a while, a certain type of telepathy arrives – and we certainly use it onstage,” says Greenall. “We also all have radically different tastes in music, and that keeps us all together in a really healthy way. There is a lot of loyalty in the Fink camp; we like to build a team, and then it’s like family.”
On Resurgam, nothing is set in stone, and the possibilities feel exhilarating. The album’s ten songs were created over two months, a relatively luxurious stretch of time for Fink, with each atmospheric track given breathing space to unfold. A sense of conviction underpins everything, whether Greenall is laying his soul bare on the lead single ‘Cracks Appear’, or expressing optimism against the odds: on ‘Day 22’s tussle with sobriety and temptation (where he sings: “The blood, sweat, tears taste so good”), or the end of the affair evoked in piano ballad ‘Word To The Wise’.
“I really don’t see ‘Word To The Wise’ as a sad song,” insists Greenall. “I see it as a reflection of the fact that when you know that something is going to end, then every second is extra sweet.” Fink’s expressions have a resonance that remains with you, even after the final note has faded. On Resurgam, that energy keeps rising up and pushing things further.
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