Nils Frahm and Anne Müller – 7 Fingers

A brilliant album combining the considerable talents of Nils Frahm and Wolf-Ferrari-Ensemble’s Anne Müller, this is a strong release, and for my money possibly one of the year’s most exciting. Put it this way, I’d be surprised to hear any electronica/modern classical record as good as 7 Fingers in the rest of 2011. This isn’t the work we’ve come to value from the creator of Bells and Winter Music; the piano on 7 Fingers is often absent: rather the accent is on creating beautiful arrangements and textures that harmonise and subtle melodies that sometimes soar. The title track is a wonderfully expressive, bubbly piece which sees any piano part play second fiddle to the strings and a series of mercurial, glitchy noises. The strength throughout is in the way the compositions are balanced, and how mood is conveyed.
There’s a calm confidence about the whole thing – seen in the beautiful and multidimensional Let My Key be C, where a repetitive, nervous string part comes to an understanding with the underlying, slow-moving melody.  Because This Must Be and Journey For a Traveller are filmic and widescreen. And in that, they remind me a bit of Copeland, the stately dream-like quality that brilliantly morphs over moods and diverse instrumental passages. There again, all the arrangements are beautifully handled on 7 Fingers; in Show Your Teeth there is a fabulous mix of flexible and expressive string cadences and electro glitch. Duktus is a beautiful piece too, shimmering electro hovers nervously about whilst a melody is concocted out of gentle prompting by piano and various string expressions.

And just when you thought you’d be happily chin-stroking over the merits of this release, along comes Long Enough and catches you completely by surprise with its shameless pop sound! Wonderful. It’s fabulous and a brilliant listen.