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Spaces

The silence between the notes becomes as poignant as the music. Nils Frahm is a classically trained pianist who plays with a technique that is improvised yet restrained. For his latest album Spaces, Frahm has pieced together live recordings captured over a two-year period. One could argue that past releases such as The Bells and Wintermusik were constrained by the recording studio, where Spaces instead seems free and unfettered.

The album opens with 'An Aborted Beginning', a fierce drum beat soon juxtaposed by 'Says', a composition that meanders with a group of slowly evolving synth chords, finishing with a minute of Frahm almost pounding the keys. Spaces later moves into more contemplative territory with pieces like 'Went Missing', 'Familiar' and 'Unter- Tristana-Ambre'. It is on these compositions that he really shows his ability to effortlessly sway between soft and intense passages. The pauses themselves hold an emotional intensity.

What Nils Frahm also displays on the record is a sense of humour, as evidenced by the song titles 'Improvisation For Piano, Laughs, Coughs And A Cell Phone' and 'For- Peter- Toilet Brushes-More'. The former was improvised over an audience member coughing and a person’s cell phone ringing, which is left on the recording. All the performances were taped on an old reel-to-reel recorder and cassette tape deck, giving the whole production a gritty authenticity.

One flaw with Spaces is that although it does carry a raw energy, some of the longer pieces like 'Unter-Tristana-Ambre' work better as background music. There are many hidden layers for the more patient listener, but some may find it tedious and exhausting.

by Now Then Sheffield