tue 28/05/2024

CD: Nils Frahm - Screws | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Nils Frahm - Screws

CD: Nils Frahm - Screws

Minimalist piano compositions with an unnecessarily distracting framing concept

Nils Frahm's 'Screws': the piano is naked

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.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Frahm is less about melody and more about mood, the ebb and flow of the textures created


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

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 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a 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?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters