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Nils Frahm All Melody Erased Tapes

Nils Frahm is no stranger to unorthodox methods of music-making. On previous albums, such as Felt (2011), he clad the hammers of the piano in felt and used toilet brushes as percussive instruments. All Melody, the latest album from esteemed German pianist, was made almost entirely from instruments deconstructed and reconstructed by the artist himself. Composed in a self-built studio in the industrial 1950s confines of the Funkhaus complex in East Berlin, Frahm uses the historic reverb chambers in Funkhaus and an old well in Mallorca to create a manually rich echo, as well as using a self-made pipe organ and mixing desk.

Like with former albums, the strength of Frahm’s melodies comes not from sonic busyness, but minimalism. Each musical component follows a simple path but is arranged in such a way that evokes maximum emotional payoff. This is typical of Frahm’s work, which achieves grandiosity using a looping crescendo that begins quiet, creeps to a peak, before returning to silence. Human Range, for example, begins with the melancholic parp of a trumpet that – drawing on Frahm’s jazz training – slips across scales and around a flurry of choral voices that form a crescendo. Often pigeonholed as neo-classical or post-classical, Frahm’s music reveals a host of influences, ranging from the classical simplicity of Erik Satie to freeform jazz and the production of electronic music. In All Melody, these genres interact to create a fluid structure that seems purposely vague. By allowing room within each song, the listener is given space to explore an emotional landscape; and invent their own narrative across the sprawl.