Nils Frahm is an interesting musician. One track he gives us IDM-esque ambiance and minimalism such as “Spaces,” above. It isn’t until 6 minutes into that song that the harmony finally changes drastically, and that is only after an extended buildup that is, quite honestly, executed perfectly. Little bits of melody presented via a nearly pristine piano texture (save for a little bit of reverb) cut through the fog created by the synthetically produced ambiance. Placing a purely acoustic instrument into this context, juxtaposing it with synthetic sounds allows either side to borrow from the other. The piano sounds less “piano-like,” no doubt also thanks to its sparse use.
And, throughout the course of “Says” we move from Tim Hecker-like warped and hazy harmonies shrouded in effect to something a little closer to Boards of Canada’s retro-synths. It isn’t until the end of the track when the audience erupts into applause that we realize that this piece was presented live. All of a sudden that elongated build makes a lot more sense, showing that Frahm definitely knows how to shape a piece and a performance on the spot.
Then, other tracks on “Spaces” are pure piano interludes, focusing on the improvised nature of Frahm’s compositional style. Something like a Keith Jarrett type stream-of-conciousness but still very much well thought out and finely detailed composition that takes shape, growing as you listen. It’s as if Nils Frahm, through his song, is going on a journey, and he has an idea of where he’d like to end up, and maybe an idea of a way that he could get there, but he’s going to entertain the idea of other possible routes, and he’s invited us along for the ride. On “Spaces” Nils Frahm captures on record the excitement of a live concert where he is free to experiment and improvise while surrounded by people that are enraptured the entire time, happy to be asked on the journey.
His new album “Spaces” is currently available on limited 2xLP special die-cut sleeve that includes 2 photo inserts, option of Wav or Mp3 download & Digital Bonus Track; also as mp3, FLAC, CD via Erased Tapes and can be sampled/streamed here.