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Music Nils Frahm

Published on February 5th, 2018 | by voxx

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Nils Frahm – All Melody

The minimalist composer’s stirring ninth LP…

For a serious acoustic/analogue-electronic composer, Nils Frahm hasn’t been above having some laughs in his 12-year recording career. Screws (2012) was played using just nine fingers after he injured his thumb falling out of bed, while the following year’s Spaces found him drumming on the interior of his grand piano with some toilet brushes.

Recorded at his new studio based in East Berlin’s Funkhaus, All Melody has no obvious gimmicks, except perhaps for a title that will wrongfoot anyone expecting cheery tunes rendered in bright colours. But it could still leave you smiling. Merging musical approaches – jazz, house and dub flavours orbit the classically-influenced core – and sustains suspense and surprise over 12 emotionally-impactful tracks.

Songs emerge with subtle shifts of gear and tend to the reflective or melancholy. Evoking foggy vistas glimpsed from a train, the nine-minute, levitational ‘Sunson’ is a bleeping piece of off kilter micro-house involving a pipe organ and, with shades of Scottish eccentric Ivor Cutler, harmonium. ‘My Friend The Forest’ and ‘Human Range’ are both spare, solo keyboard pieces, given a curious sense of location by the sounds of creaking furniture and ambient noise. Particularly memorable, ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrives on a vast lava flow of vintage synth noise, which then brings forth competing rhythms and treated voices not unlike ’80s techno-Dadaists Art Of Noise.

Tape hiss and background sounds are ever-present, as if to suggest an artist on full transmit, intent on capturing the magic of the moment. He does, too; listeners so far unhipped to the contemporary avant-classical may find themselves pleasantly intrigued.

- By Jake White


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