CD: Nils Frahm - Screws | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Nils Frahm - Screws
Minimalist piano compositions with an unnecessarily distracting framing concept
Although he has been recording since 2005, it was his 2011 album, Felt, which set Nils Frahm apart from the ever-swelling tide of modern classical minimalists. It was so intimate, so subtle, it felt almost like it shouldn’t be shared. The follow up has that same sense of peeking in on some private act, but it feels less uncomfortably illicit. On Screws, Frahm’s piano is naked, with nothing intruding.
Even so, the story of how this album came to be made is distracting. In a fall from his bed, Frahm broke his thumb and decided to record one composition a night over nine nights, each played with the nine usable fingers he had left. The title is drawn from the screws inserted in his bones by surgeons after the injury.
It’s not necessary to know any of this to appreciate the music. In common with his fellow pursuers of the minimal (Ólafur Arnalds, Peter Broderick, Hauschka, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Nico Muhly, A Winged Victory For The Sullen) Frahm is less about melody and more about mood, the ebb and flow of the textures created. For Screws, despite the odd bit of ambient sound (notably on “Si”), Frahm is sat at his piano with no external elements incorporated into the music - no glitchiness, no electronica, no treatments. The result is a warm sonic bath in repeated patterns where the space between each figure is as important as the notes played. Instead of drifting, the structures are precise, almost geometric. The closing piece, “Me”, seems to end more than once and then returns, each time with another, additional skeletal pattern. The framing concept here is irrelevant. Nobody would know or needs to know how many fingers were employed to create this subtle, enveloping music.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Rated singer-songwriter heads in an experimental but beguiling new direction
The glamorous fado star shines bright with songs from her new, upbeat album
The ultimate re-re-wind for the Miami-fied UK garage behemoth
Mike Oldfield's '70s classic. Performed live. With extra trombones
The Super Furries frontman releases a soundtrack that stands tall and on its own merits
Lavish package devoted to the three ‘Cathedral Oceans’ albums
First new work for four years is beautiful but nostalgic
The spirit of Pink Floyd lives on as the 'Rattle That Lock' tour comes home
Black Francis’s mob gets back into their stride with gusto
Can the Icelander's voice and chamber ensemble fill the Albert Hall?
An almanack of historical pleasures from the country songbook
Brit-American duo cross a continent digging into folk music's railroad mythology