Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Album of the Month: ALL MELODY by Nils Frahm

Musically, January is a tough month. Nobody of note does anything interesting (I had no idea the Arctic Monkeys haven't played live in four years), and what few obscure gems are released slip through the net and are revealed posthumously. This time, I really do hope that I've overlooked some nameless masterpiece, the way I did last year with Tobin Sprout's The Universe and Me (featuring "I Fall You Fall", the best song you did not hear in 2017). Because I can't name one album that has truly impressed me this past month. 

Nils Frahm's All Melody is the only thing I can offer, and that's more intriguing than impressive and not a patch on the miniature, minimalist classic Felt from 2011 whose "Familiar" piece can still run shivers up and down my spine. 

And that's not his fault. Nils Frahm has changed. His stock has risen significantly since 2011. He has built his own studio in Berlin. Frahm has changed in the sense that he chose to expand his minimalism, to mine it in whichever way he wanted. Instead of Satie-styled piano chords, he has gone into electronics with all its blips and crackles. God knows he does them smartly and with style, these blips and crackles, but there's just no emotional connection beneath the technical prowess that he no doubt has. 

I do enjoy Frahm's electronic soundscapes for what they are worth (if anything, they are fairly diverse), but to me he is all about those silky piano pieces like "My Friend The Forest", "Forever Changeless" and "Fundamental Values". These touch me deeply, as does the transcendental ambience of the closer "Harm Hymn" that may well end up being the most beautiful thing released in 2018. As, in fact, does "Momentum" that has two parts, one choral and one electronic, that seamlessly float into each other.

And there you have it, the one album in January 2018 that took me somewhere else, if only sporadically... February, though. February is John Moore. February is Alela Diane. February is Go-Kart Mozart. February is many things.