The relentless schedule of an internationally touring artist was turned on its head at the beginning of 2020, with live venues and clubs being shut the world over. Though if there’s one slight positive that’s come from the whole pandemic, it’s the down time that many people found themselves with. For some people that meant being able to learn a new skill, for others it was simply an opportunity to finally do nothing, and for Nils Frahm, it was organising his vast collection of archival recordings.
The resulting product is a new album from Frahm, the largest of his career in fact. With a generous 23-long tracklist and an almost 80 minute run time, it combines a number of his works from 2009, all the way through 2021. Titled Old Friends New Friends, the record takes you on an introspective journey that features nothing but a piano, Nils himself, and a bunch of post-processing. One track throws you into uplifting happiness, before the next takes things to a place of sorrow and melancholy, alongside scattered bursts of romance, suspense, and energy throughout. It’s an intensely emotional album, with the stomping of the pedal and banging of the keys ringing out across the ever evolving and expertly written melodies, something which adds a layer of authenticity to the sound, an almost intentional imperfection which lets you know there’s a human on the other side of the recording putting his soul on the line for your entertainment. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the recordings is the consistency in which things are structured, while there’s no doubt Nils has developed as an artist since 2009, and sonically there was likely quite a bit of refinement to balance the scales in terms of dynamics, its like the entire project was recorded this year. Speaking on the album Nils Frahm added “It’s like I tossed flowers indiscriminately into a vase and then realised it looked exactly right.”
Where to start:
The Idea Machine: Timid, airy, and thoughtful piano melodies
Iced Wood: Oscillating blend of cavernous reverb-drenched keys
Forgetmenot: Soft melodies wander through a cloud of echoing coldness
Previous from Nils Frahm:
Solo LP (2015, Erased Tapes)
Graz LP (2021, Erased Tapes)
If you like this then check out:
Ólafur Arnalds – some kind of peace LP (2020, Mercury)
Rival Consoles – Overflow LP (2021, Erased Tapes)
Nils Frahm – Old Friends New Friends LP is out now on LEITER.