Encores 1 [ep]
Earlier this year Nils Frahm delivered his new album, perhaps his finest and one of the best by anyone this year. All Melody was the first delivered results from his newly created home-studio, though now we have the proof that those sessions served up an embarrassment of riches with this slyly-titled and sneakily-released EP, some “leftovers” and/or working sketches, parts of the process that we now get to hear in isolation.
Encores 1 features only piano and harmonium, no electronics, and you can hear the room as is the way with Frahm’s work and world.
We open with The Roughest Trade, a tender piece of piano exploration, gentle balladry where we can hear the room’s ambience, some breathing and the mechanical process of the piano keys being pressed down. It’s a simple, gorgeous melody that builds.
Ringing brings to mind some of his soundtrack work’s quieter moments but if there’s a close cousin in Frahm’s catalogue it’s his Solo record – the free download he offered a part of “Piano Day”.
I’m reminded too of Chilly Gonzales’ solo piano works here.
To Thomas creeps along softly, again we really hear the room as part of the composition.
The Dane, at just two minutes in length, is one of the true highlights here, and apparently it’s been a live favourite on Frahm’s tour. There’s something both playful and profound in the way this tune ‘unwinds’.
We close with Harmonium In The Well – the longest piece here, clocking in at over 11 minutes and reminiscent of some of the Penguin Café Orchestra’s earlier works.
Frahm’s likely to release a second and third volume of “Encores” later this year. We’re lucky to have him, so lucky to hear these snapshots of sound that inform the full works.
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