Nils Frahm – Spaces (2013/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:16:10 minutes | 342 MB | Genre: Modern Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Booklet, Front Cover | © Erased Tapes
“This is an absorbing work, full of pensive moments cut together by music that thrives on dovetailing melodies that can be simultaneously mesmerizing and beautiful. “
The Berlin-based composer Nils Frahm’s Spaces is a live album patchworked together from various recordings, containing songs both old and new, some shortened, some lengthened, some radically different in approach. It’s a mesmerizing and beautiful work.
Tight restrictions are a fundamental component of the music made by Berlin-based composer Nils Frahm. When he plays piano it sometimes feels like his hands are pulling rigid machine-based structures into a lighter, airier place. Frahm is a musician clearly enamored with benchmark figures from the minimalist tradition (Steve Reich, Philip Glass), artists who cross the jazz and classical worlds (Keith Jarrett), film composers that lean toward the tropes of early music (Michael Nyman), and electronic musicians with the lightest of touches (Thomas Fehlmann). Spaces is a live album patchworked together from various recordings, containing songs both old and new, some shortened, some lengthened, some radically different in approach. Some even stay just as they were.
This is an absorbing work, full of pensive moments cut together by music that thrives on dovetailing melodies that can be simultaneously mesmerizing and beautiful. “Said and Done” is the most impressive of these, with a hammering piano motif looping for most of its 10-minute duration as Frahm filters it through textures both light and dark. It’s giddy at times, the sound of a creator utterly lost to his work. The occasional burst of applause or audience noise is a startling reminder that these aren’t studio works, although it’s easy to forget that fact, so meticulous are the arrangements. Moments of humor work as a neat buffer throughout, stopping everything from becoming too internalized—the Jarrett-referencing “Improvisation for Coughs and a Cell Phone” is a piece bent around the interruptions suggested in its title.
What’s fascinating about Frahm’s work here is how he plays with time, working strictly within its limits through tiny repeating motifs, but blowing the overall picture up over such a wide canvas that it’s easy to forget how long it’s taken to get to where he’s going. The almost 17-minute long medley “For – Peter – Toilet Brushes – More” is an example of that idea. Plates of coiling synth sound indebted to the new age markers set down by Jean Michel Jarre open up the track, before Frahm glides through bursts of rim-shot percussion, arpeggiated synths, and a return to the strident piano of “Said and Done”. All the component parts work in miniature, based around fragments of sound and ideas that gradually merge into one despite their wildly different roots. The huge burst of applause at the end is deserved, to say the least.
01. An Aborted Beginning
03. Said And Done
04. Went Missing
06. Improvisation For Coughs And A Cell Phone
08. For – Peter – Toilet Brushes – More
09. Over There, It’s Raining
10. Unter – Tristana – Ambre
11. Ross’s Harmonium