Label: Erased Tapes
Release Date: 18/11/2013
There is something both touching and humbling about the personal nature of Nils Frahm’s music. The first release I ever bought of his entitled ‘Wintermusik’, was originally intended simply as a Christmas present for his close friends and family. Since the release of this back in 2009, the German born pianist has continued to work as diligently as ever, gaining critical acclaim for both his releases and live performances.
His latest album, Spaces, can be considered as something of a sonic road diary, compiling carefully selected highlights from his live shows, recorded over a two year period.
Frahm has a distinctive, contemporary take on the piano, his different playing approaches here helping to highlight the versatility of the instrument. These range from the spacious, melancholic wanderings of ‘Over There, It’s Raining’ to the wonderfully dynamic ‘Says’, featuring an ethereal synth-riff underpinning distant melodic variations, before building to a soaring finish in its closing minutes.
Frahm’s use of electronic timbres is not limited to ‘Says’ however, lumbering opening track ‘An Aborted Beginning’ featuring bleepy dub-echoes and clattering percussion. The wandering, frenetic ‘Toilet Brushes’ and pensive, Múm-esque closer ‘Ross’ Harmonium’ also make use of synthetic textures, yet both retain an organic, natural quality to them despite this.
Perhaps this is to be expected however, seeing as the most distinctive feature of _Spaces _is Frahm’s willingness to include certain mistakes and impromptu interruptions that give the album a sense of intimacy and character that simply couldn’t have been achieved by the clinical approach to recording live albums usually taken. ‘Improvisation For Piano, Laughs, Coughs And A Cell Phone’ for example lives up to it’s title. Throughout the album in general background noise and audience interactions are welcomed rather than pushed out, giving he listener a sense of space and setting that is really rather easy to become immersed in.
Having heard friends sing the praises of Frahm’s live performances plenty of times in the past, I can’t imagine there being a much more faithful replication of his shows than the album presented here, of which having listened through, I am looking forward to attending._