Nils Frahm – All Melody

The composer's most significant work to date...

The neoclassical climate of Erased Tapes and, in particular, Nils Frahm has moved centre-stage in recent years. After quietly amassing an often-staggering body of work over the previous decade, now that the world has caught him up, Frahm has moved on. The ambitiously diverse nature of his 2013 live record, ‘Spaces’, with its relative light and shade, is the most useful marker in making sense of ‘All Melody’.

As always, beguiling moments lurk in the shadows: an organ figure that lifts briefly from the mire early in ‘A Place’ is utterly sublime. The sound of the recording space remains, be it tape hiss or creaking chairs, but the ingredients and their manipulation have mutated. ‘Human Range’ is a vocal track without lyrics, deploying sung parts like instruments in mesmerising, almost drone-like fashion.

Frahm has talked about how the piano comes to be his voice and never has this felt more noticeable than on ‘My Friend The Forest’, which has the same smoky, bar-stool atmosphere of early Tom Waits only without the words. ‘Forever Changeless’ repurposes old parts anew, while the title track and ‘#2’ are strung-out, bleepy soundscapes that loop hypnotically. A clear evolution, with a slightly deceptive title, ‘All Melody’ is Frahm’s most significant work to date.

Words: Gareth James

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