Nils Frahm has always had a fascination with musical instruments. You can tell from the way he presents them in his music. The mechanics of the machines that create the sounds you hear are a problem to be mitigated for most producers, but in all of Frahm’s work they are celebrated.
His past couple of solo albums have focused on uniquely designed pianos and the music he could create with them. The way these pianos excelled in niches by design, guided the composition of the pieces in directions you wouldn’t usually take or hear. The skill in the songs creation came from a synergy between the musician and the instrument. You could hear the keys being pressed and the hammers hitting the strings in an organic and vivid way. It takes the listener into the performance and the sound of the room as much as the piece itself.
On his latest he adjusts his style of composition to a more traditional and broader collection of instruments, but his choice in recording techniques and microphone placement continues his characteristic approach to the organic sound of the instruments. You can hear every key press and breath on the woodwinds in the track Sunson becoming a backbone to the rhythm.
I think Frahms greatest achievement is how he blends very raw sounding organic instrumentation with electronic synthesis so they at times become indistinguishable from each other. Its a talent he showed on my favourite album of 2016 trance frendz, where he collaborated with Olafur Arnalds and he’s done it again here. Proving that synthesizers can be more than the harsh simple tones you hear on the charts but just as nuanced as any traditional instrument with the right experience of programming and playing.
It’s early days but I don’t want to say anymore about this record unless I need to do a full write up for my end of year list. Needless to say I’m very impressed with the whole thing. It’s well worth anyone’s time so give it a listen: