Erased Tapes Records Ltd.
Nils Frahm. Exquisite. Piano master. A producer and wizard with electronics and all sorts too – but at the core of it all is just his two hands, his heart and soul and the piano stool that places him in the space where he needs to be. From there you’ll journey with him. Something I’ve been doing since 2013’s Spaces opened me wide. I went back to the earlier stuff – noticing after a bit that I’d joined his world essentially in the middle of his output. He’s no stranger to surprise releases, to multiple albums or EPs in a year, but this latest is a surprise in that it arrived for Piano Day – the 88th day of the year – a day to celebrate “The king of all instruments”; a day invented by Frahm himself as recently as 2015. You’d have thought Piano Day had been a thing for at least a hundred years right? Nope. Frahm snuck out this gorgeous wee album called ‘Solo’ to mark the first Piano Day.
And this year he offered up Graz.
But where Solo was a set of new recordings – Graz was maybe meant to be Frahm’s official Erased Tapes debut. Made in 2009 it’s hung around patiently and gathered precisely no dust.
Yep, this new to you and me album for 2021 was recorded back in 2009 when so many of us knew nothing about this man’s genius. Its all here though. Fully formed.
Always fascinating to travel back in this sort of way. It’s believable to hear and feel this as simply a stripped-back return to the very basics – space filling a room around an acoustic piano – after various soundtrack contributions and his solo shows that dazzle with a mix of prepared and straight pianos and other keyboards.
A grand piano mic’d up closely. That’s it. Just that and the moods that Frahm makes.
He is Keith Jarrett and Ryuichi Sakamoto – maybe in fact he is the exact common ground, the intersection of that Venn.
Across nine – mostly short – instrumentals Frahm conjures soft moods and the sweep of an epic journey now and then (Kurzum at nearly nine minutes, Crossings at over six) but the John Cale-like Hammers shows a percussive instinct and, gosh, the opener, Lighter, is barely there for its first half; we all but hear the lid being lifted before the Satie-like waft starts to drift through.
Gorgeous stuff. Let this take you where it will. Nils Frahm. Exquisite. Piano master.