Chaz Knapp floors me. He slides into his latest album, Finger
, effortlessly, with more grace and poise than some musicians twice his age. The whole thing has a feeling of self-awareness and comfort, which comes as quite a shock considering the young man is merely twenty-one years of age. However, this should come as no surprise, as music, and the performance of, has been a very large part of Knapp’s life from a very young age. Picking up the guitar at age nine, the budding musician has been progressing rapidly, touching upon a multitude of genres, and even partaking in other projects as well. Even more intriguing is the fact that Knapp owns his very own label. All this is very impressive, as his accomplishments speak volumes of his capabilities as a musician, and an artist.
With his latest solo album, Finger
, Knapp heavily touches upon a more lo-fi, neo-classical sound, which is conducive to some pretty beautiful moments. It’s easy to see his influences however, as there are several obvious nods to the label mates of his post-rock outfit, Our Native Brother. Honestly, there are even some moments where the resemblances are suspicious. For instance, the track “See” has some strange parallels to the Max Richter piece, “On the Nature of Daylight,” from his 2004 effort, The Blue Notebooks
. Little splashes of Sigur Ros and Richter are everywhere actually, permeating in both subtle and not so subtle ways. The blatant influences don’t detract too much though, for he’s taking cues from the best in the business.
Like those he wishes to emulate, Chaz Knapp produces some incredibly beautiful music. In fact, damn near everything on Finger
is beautiful. It’s execution is quite wonderful, as the album is very relaxing, and surprisingly immiscible. However, the fact that every single second of the album is soothing, chill, and pretty is sort of its undoing. The dynamics in mood, the contrast between light and dark, none of it is really there. The very artists he emulates capture the things that Knapp simply hasn’t, making his work appear to have a weak pallor in comparison. The whole affair comes off as kind of flat because of this, which is rather disappointing because it is clear that the musician has his heart and mind completely in this.
That’s really what makes Finger
shine; the passion for music embedded in every note. Sure he doesn’t break down doors or blaze any trails, but Knapp clearly has invested a significant part of himself in the album. The subtle piano, the jovial violin, and every other instrument the guys throws in are all tools to accomplish his ambitions. He utilizes each instrument incredibly well, and with such a wide variety of them, the album ends up being fairly layered without sacrificing the simplistic nature. It isn‘t heavy in the least, with the cello offering most of the album‘s lower tones. The violins can sound slight, yet vigorous, which is actually a nice polarity. Yet it is the piano that steals the show. Knapp is actually a fairly skilled pianist, showcasing some proficiency, yet consistently keeping the sound in check. Rarely does he stray too far from the higher parts of the keyboard, opting for a lighter sound, rather than darker.
is a very lighthearted piece, displaying the cathartic power that music can have, and allowing for the listener to take part. There are plenty of impressive moments to be had, with the more simplistic sound actually assisting the product, rather than depriving the album of depth. The electronic flourishes add a significant touch to the album, giving it the character it would be sorely lacking without them. The static, scratchiness found on “Mind” oddly compliments the frenetic violin solo early on in the track. It’s in these little details that Knapp is able to detract from his weaknesses, making each track a wonderful listen.
, Chaz Knapp manages to impress, despite the shortcomings of the final product. Parts of it are flat, and at times his inspirations are embarrassingly obvious. Added to that, the album never really transcends, as it seems fully willing to remain a neo-classical, electronic novelty. However, there is evidence of a spark; an ember of genius, just beneath the surface. The young man has aspirations, and Finger
, despite its faults and missteps, is a clear indicator of that. However, with everything he does right-the beauty, style, and class, it would be wise to take note; this kid is going to make waves someday.