When you hear the name Nils Frahm, you expect ‘piano’ to follow soon after. The Berlin-based composer and experimental musician is best known for his work on the ivory keys, using the instrument as a means toward realising his improvisational technique in visceral action. Over the past while, however, he’s begun to wander away from the bench and strings towards the cables of electronica, perhaps felt most in his work with frequent collaborator F.S Blumm. His latest album, Music For Animals, is a departure of sorts in the way that it doesn’t feature the piano at all. Across ten expansive compositions, Frahm works in a mostly electronic palette to craft the immersive, three hour long experience. But while the piano itself may be absent, its spirit looms large over the project.
Lemon Day, an eighteen minute long composition at the end of Music For Animals, bears much of Frahm’s signature qualities. It takes its time to unfold, exploring the breadth of each note and each texture to its full extent before moving forward. Opening with a symphony of sliding drone synths against a static ambient backdrop, Lemon Day comes in waves, the tone shifting ever so slightly as it oozes forth so that you never quite know where it may go next. At its apex, a subtle click track provides a languid, waif-like pulse for Frahm’s drones to dance across, undulating and warping in space like the Northern Lights. It’s intriguing to hear Frahm paint in a different medium, and this reveals the core values of his practice. As with his experimental piano work, though the music appears freeform, there’s a commitment to melody and harmony that makes for something spellbinding. It’s cyclical almost, or rather infinite, in structure. It’s good we have symphonies and music where there’s a development, but a waterfall doesn’t need an Act 1, 2, 3, then an outcome, and nor do the leaves on a tree in a storm,” Frahm says about his approach on Music For Animals. “Some people like watching the leaves rustle and the branches move. This record is for them.”
Listen to Lemon Day from Music For Animals below.
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