Nils Frahm – Felt

Frahm used a layer of felt in front of the strings to dampen the keys’ sounds so his neighbours would not be annoyed by his playing. ...The result is a spectacularly romantic and mysterious album.

 

 


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What can you say about this man? Well, one thing that I feel should always be stressed is the emotional aspect of his records, they are all born from feelings and moments of inspiration, gambles, playful ideas worked up into an album’s worth of material. Felt is no different. You can see that in his sleeve notes on the record which are, for this gauche and indifferent age, full of its contradictions uncertainties and misunderstandings, remarkable passages of honest and openly expressed feeling. The element of playful gamble is to release a record that sounds accidentally beautiful, just for its own sake.

Frahm used a layer of felt in front of the strings to dampen the keys’ sounds so his neighbours would not be annoyed by his playing. He was also interested in capturing the interactive element of playing a piano, all the breath he emits, the creaking of the boards and pedals...  The result is a spectacularly romantic and mysterious album. The opening track, Keep, with its weeping chords and soft, choppy counterpoint, drips of Sehsucht, and third track Familiar sounds like something Rodelius would conjure up on Lunz. It’s very beautiful, as is the scrabbling noise (fingers on the keys?) that adds an unexpected texture to the track.
Talking of noises, Unter seems to be filled with them, a whistle and a barely audible conversation adding a ghostly note to the proceedings. Old Thought and Snippet are similarly spectral but despite their quiet nature, widescreen and embracing the listener in its preoccupations.  Kind is a beautiful piece full of suspense despite its repetitive nature and Pause again reminds me of Rodelius, (this time the last track off Cluster’s Sowiesoso), with its hesitant plod. This is Hoch Deutsch romanticism, without doubt.  Why Frahm isn’t working as Florian Fricke did, knocking out film scores by the dozen is anybody’s guess.

Marvellous, Nils Frahm is a treasure.