Nils Frahm is a German composer and musician whose work combines acoustic and electronic instruments with a primary focus on pianos and synthesizers. Both in studio and on-stage, his work employs vintage electronic gear as well as unconventional microphone placement and playing techniques, creating a unique, intimate sound. His recordings include solo piano works (such as 2009's The Bells), prepared piano compositions (2011's Felt), and melodic synthesizer-based pieces (2018's All Melody) in addition to soundtrack work (2015's Victoria). He also produced experimental electro as part of the trio Nonkeen, and released collaborations with artists like F.S. Blumm, Anne Müller, Ólafur Arnalds, and DJ Shadow. His acclaimed concerts have been documented on releases like 2013's Spaces and 2020's Tripping with Nils Frahm. Frahm's debut LP, Streichelfisch, combining heavy electronic glitch with acoustic instruments, was released in 2005 on his AtelierMusik label. My First EP followed in 2006, and Electric Piano, marking Frahm's shift to piano-based works, arrived in 2008. Two more solo piano works, Wintermusik (on Sonic Pieces) and The Bells (on Kning Disc), were well-received. Frahm began collaborating with many electronic and modern classical artists, including F.S. Blumm, Machinefabriek, Peter Broderick, and Anne Müller. The 2011 solo album Felt, featuring heavily atmospheric prepared piano compositions, arrived on Erased Tapes (home to most of Frahm's subsequent releases), along with the synthesizer-based single "Juno." The minimalist piano album Screws followed in 2012, and Frahm collaborated with Ólafur Arnalds on the Stare EP the same year. Juno Reworked, a 12" EP featuring both tracks from the "Juno" single as well as remixes by Luke Abbott and Clark, appeared in 2013. Spaces, a live album consisting of field recordings of Frahm's performances over the course of two years, appeared toward the end of 2013, and was his most acclaimed recording to date, receiving high praise from numerous publications. His 2015 album Solo was initially released for free on March 29, a day Frahm declared to be "World Piano Day." He composed his first film score for the German single-take film Victoria in 2015. Later that year, Frahm produced an eclectic mix as part of the Late Night Tales mix CD series. In early 2016, he revisited his Screws album with Screws Reworked, a selection of remixes from fans and fellow musicians handpicked by Frahm himself. During that year, R&S released two albums by Nonkeen, an experimental trio consisting of Frahm and childhood friends Frederic Gmeiner and Sepp Singwald. Also in 2016, he released collaborations with Ólafur Arnalds (Trance Frendz), F.S. Blumm (Tag Eins Tag Zwei), and Woodkid (Ellis [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]). After spending two years building a studio in Berlin, Frahm returned with the ambitious solo album All Melody in 2018, followed by a world tour. A series of Encores EPs, meant as companions to All Melody, were released individually and compiled as All Encores in 2019. Empty, an album of solo upright piano music originally recorded as the soundtrack to a short film in 2012, was released on World Piano Day in 2020. Later in the year, the composer issued Tripping with Nils Frahm, a recording of a concert at Funkhaus Berlin that kicked off the tour supporting All Melody. In 2021, Frahm released Graz, a debut album recorded for Erased Tapes which was postponed after the release of Felt.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo
© Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Classical - Released March 29, 2021 | Erased Tapes
The creator of Piano Day has struck again! In mid-March 2020, without any prior notice, Nils Frahm released an album of eight "lullabies" dating from the time of his album Screws, called Empty. For this new edition of Piano Day (launched in 2015), the German pianist went through his archives to unearth an album recorded at MUMUTH, the University of music and performing arts in Graz, in 2009, as part of Conversations for Piano and Room produced by Thomas Geiger, the founder of Kunsthalle3000. Graz offers a window into Nils Frahm's early period. Back then, he had just landed in Berlin and he was still self-producing his albums. The Nils Frahm who reveals himself through these nine tracks is "raw", perhaps, but as stunning as ever (see, for example, the superb Because This Must Be). The famous "Frahm sound" did not then exist. It would be developed a few months later, on Felt (2011). This was made when the artist decided, so as not to disturb his neighbours, to wedge felt between the strings and hammers of his piano and to place microphones nearby in order to be able to listen to himself on headphones. There are also two tracks that wouldn't make the cut for Spaces, his 2013 album based on field recording and electronic improvisations. Hammers, developed here in two short minutes, a "drier" version that laid the foundation for one of the pianist's signature titles – and one of his most hypnotic. And Went Missing, which closes the album, which also sounds a little “harder" than the muted and mezzo piano version of Spaces, but no less majestic. © Smaël Bouaici / Qobuz