Album of the year: Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Fram-Trance Frendz

On 28th of July 2015 composers/multi instrumentalists Olafur Arnalds and Nils Fram met at Nils’s Durton Studio In Berlin with documentarian Alexander Schneider to play and record an evening of music and film the event. The outcome of which was this album Trance Frendz. It features no over dubbing (added instrumentation) so you don’t get the complexity found in any of the other albums on my list. What you do get though is a direct connection to the artists through their instruments. No elaboration or extension, just the raw, Improvised idea. The moment of creation in its purest form, recorded for all to hear and see.

The instrumentation features a different collection of pianos, keys, Synths and a glockensphiel. Although they are limited to only a couple of instruments a track. Each one has its own unique character and sound which subtly gives them an individuality. It’s this focus on detail that really exemplifies the record. Instruments are recorded naturally with plenty of room ambience which becomes a key feature in the organic and pure nature of the work.

Both artists have collaborated previously and have the same styles in their music. So they complement each other perfectly on these collection of duets. Creating a sound that varies from the light and playful to the darker more powerful tracks which feature prominent synthesis. However all of these tracks are chameleons. They seem to blend into many atmospheres. At quiet levels they can work as ambient pieces to play in the background of many settings, however turn up the volume and they immerse you in the sound of their world.

The hybrid nature of this release has made it quite hard to pin down to a year. Although the album was recorded and was available to view online last year. The distribution of the work on Vinal and CD box set, with their other collaboration work Loon, was staggered internationally with a UK release of this year. This is a mark of the times in many ways. Smaller artists and labels have to improvise in the distribution of hard copies but the digital domain allows a new and creative form of distribution. The ability to watch the live creation of this album on YouTube is another welcome addition to the music. Giving you and in depth look at how it was made, but also a further understanding behind he artists creating the work.

In a year of chaos and instability, times of self reflection and concentration have been a regular occurrence for me and this album has been its soundtrack. An escape from the surroundings into a simple but beautiful world. A demonstration of creativity in its purest most exiting form. It shows the positivity and wonder that we can achieve, even on the spur of the moment and if that isn’t the best thing to take with us into 2017 I don’t know what is:



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