This is a genre-bending album about, well, life, death, and other prizes. Featuring futuristic sci-fi folk pop about AI and human emotions, medieval-inspired love and death ballads, glam rock stompers about planned obsolescence, and psych freak-outs. Fingerless have been building towards this release since the first single taken off this album, 2019’s ‘Tambourine Addict Who Plays the Drugs.’
Life, Death, & Prizes, Fingerless’ 4th album, is the first to be "properly" recorded in a studio with a full band. Cheeseman’s project started performing as a band (rather than a solo project) back in 2017, and this album is the result of countless jams and performances around Meanjin/Brisbane between 2017 and 2019.
When recording started, Fingerless consisted of a fresh-faced 4 piece band of friends (Marc, Warwick, Jonny, and Zara - two of which were married), and an open world full of possibilities. By the time they had finished recording the final overdubs in early 2021 only 3 members remained (Marc, Warwick, and Jonny) - divorce had shaken the band to its foundations, and of course the brave new post-2020 world was rapidly unfolding in unexpected ways, which caused many delays in finishing the album. After Zara and Jonny split up, Zara moved to Melbourne and has been heavily involved in the preparation of this album from her new home - including recording some final overdubs while she was back in Brisbane on a brief visit. Thankfully Zara and Jonny are still very close friends, and she’ll be joining the band up on stage when they head down to Melbourne for some shows in the near future.
Most of the album was recorded live in the studio with Darek Mudge (Screamfeeder, Tired Lion, Violent Soho) at Black Box Recording. There were two songs, however, that the band recorded themselves, ‘Sympathetic Love’ and ‘You Are Going to Die’, this helped the band lean into the idiosyncratic themes and instrumentation of those songs (I’m talking pre-AI text-to-speech programs, I’m talking cow bell, I’m talking sitar, I’m talking cheap Casio toy keyboards!).
For the studio recordings, the band opted to record all of the songs live with no click track to try to capture the energy of a live performance. To this end, they kept overdubbing to a minimum, only adding the essentials like acoustic guitar, backing vocals and extra hand percussion. One notable exception to this was the backwards effect that you can hear throughout the Mazzy Star/Brian Jonestown-esque ‘Leaf of Stone’, where the band stole (their words) a production technique from the Beatles’ tune ‘Blue Jay Way’. "When the Beatles’ team finished mixing that recording…” reflects frontman Marc Cheeseman, “it was copied to a second tape, hooked up two machines, and they placed the two copies of the song on each machine. They played one forwards and one backwards, fading the backwards one in and out randomly, and recorded the outcome to a third tape! We were able to reproduce this whole process digitally which was a bunch of fun and sounds ethereal and adds a kind of ghostly ambience to the song."
The artwork for the album’s front cover features a family portrait photo of Zara Bennet (synths/keys/vocals/percussion) when she was about 4 years old. You can interpret this any way you want, but to me it screams “why am I here!!!?? What’s happening!!??” which is basically what the whole album is about, really…
Total playing time: 40:11
format: 3.5" floppy disc, digital