Woodkid & Nils Frahm Ellis Erased Tapes
As 2016 continues to spew out a relentless stream of oppression, division and outright tragedy, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that we live in fragmented and fragile times. The fractures in today’s society are products of contemporary disputes and dynamics, but struggle, insecurity and conflict are depressingly recurring themes.
The new two-track collaboration between the composers Woodkid and Nils Frahm shines an all-too-resonant spotlight on one migrant’s story, as he prepares to enter the United States for the first time in the great European inward migration of the 20th Century, via the infamous immigration inspection point at Ellis Island.
The collaboration is the score for a short film, ELLIS, starring Robert de Niro. The first track is a delicate, heart-wrenching suite of piano cascades, rippling outwards from a gentle core, and climaxing in a crescendo of strings. The second track, Winter Morning 2, overlays a poignant, evocative monologue from de Niro on to Woodkid and Frahm’s delicate, weary, wheezing harmonium.
It is as crushingly, compellingly beautiful as you would expect from artists of this calibre approaching a topic of this depth. All proceeds from the album go to the migrant-rescue charity Sea Watch. In Frahm’s own words, “We are not facing a refugee crisis. We are facing a crisis because we do not embrace, we do not sympathise and we cannot give up fear.”