Roter Salon, Βερολίνο, 26-07-2011
Μια εκτενής συνέντευξη του σπουδαίου Nils Frahm στο http://moreintelligentlife.com/:
More Intelligent Life: What was it like to have Nahum Brodski for a piano teacher? He must have been quite a character. Nils Frahm: I really loved my piano teacher. He was about 80 years old when I met him and he taught me the piano for seven years, sometimes four times per week, and he was absolutely supportive. His Russian background influenced my taste in music a lot in my formative years. He made me practice so hard it was almost painful. But of course glad I’m he did; since then I’ve never had to work as hard on my instrument. MIL: I read somewhere that you grew up with your father’s ECM collection. He also appears to be an established architectural photographer. Was he a big creative influence? NF: Definitely. My father has incredible taste in music. He is also a photographer and one of the most amazing artists I’ve ever met. His aesthetic is so clear and convincing. You can see some of his work on his website. I had an amazing childhood, spending time with art books, obscure jazz and classical vinyl records. But my father also showed me the first Portishead album, “Dummy”, when I was around 15. So yes, he is also responsible for my taste in music, and once you’ve explored a label like ECM with artists like Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, Ralph Towner, Valentin Silvestrov, Keith Jarrett and more on it, it will stay with you forever.MIL: Were you tempted to study jazz piano? NF: After school I wanted to study jazz piano but I was not so much into classic, old-school jazz stuff at that point, so I decided against it. It was probably also because of me being lazy. MIL: What were your first forays into recording? NF: I started recording music when I was 14 or 15—first with a cassette recorder and later with computers and now mostly on tape again. I was always really into the process of making records. I kind of stopped playing piano for a while and got deep into electronic music and music production and mixing. “Wintermusik” became my first solo piano release after a long time of only playing piano for myself. MIL: “Wintermusik” was originally a gift for friends, wasn’t it?NF: That’s right. I wouldn’t have thought that any of my piano music would be good enough for a release or a live concert. MIL: How did it become a commercial release? NF: Monique [Recknagel] from the Berlin-based boutique label Sonic Pieces came to one of my performances and told me how much she loved it. And all of my friends gave me this amazing feedback. I loved the idea of doing a small hand-made edition of 333 copies. It didn’t feel commercial at that point, but after I realised how quickly all of her copies sold, I asked her to do a second run. The second run of 500 copies sold out within a couple of days. Then Robert [Raths] from Erased Tapes in London got in touch and offered to work with me. He had heard my music through Peter [Broderick], who released his beautiful score “Music for Falling from Trees” with them, and he sent me an e-mail saying that he couldn’t imagine Erased Tapes without my music anymore. It felt amazing to hear that. They just re-released “Wintermusik” on a worldwide scale, with “The Bells” and my next album to follow [this year]. MIL: There’s a heavy emphasis on improvisation in “The Bells”. Is this something that’s always been important to you, or a recent direction? NF: Improvisation is a key aspect in my piano playing. I am not good at sheet reading—I never was. My strength is that I can play the melodies that I hear in my head. I like the directness about it and the risk. In good moments, through improvisation, I get this feeling throughout my body. I think at this point all thinking stops. It’s more like meditation. MIL: Is this something to do with your heavy exposure to jazz, do you think? NF: Yes, definitely. You could say it’s something in between jazz and unfinished compositions.MIL: How did you meet Peter Broderick, who worked on “The Bells” with you? NF: Monique showed me his music and I was blown away. I thought he was a genius, so I contacted him via MySpace, I think. He replied and said that he liked my music as well. I was amazed that he actually listened to it. As if that wasn’t enough, after a few days he asked me if I wanted to record some of my piano music for the solo piano series he curates for Kning Disk. A few weeks later he flew over to Berlin. MIL: Where was “The Bells” recorded and how did the compositions take shape? NF: “The Bells” was recorded at the Grunewald church in Berlin, a very beautiful place on the outskirts of the city. Inside there is a huge organ, a giant harpsichord and a grand piano. I don’t think you can call the pieces compositions because I hadn’t prepared any of them beforehand. In general, I wouldn’t call myself the best composer on the piano. When I write set pieces I get bored with them quite quickly. For some reason it’s only music that I can’t replay so easily that fascinates me. You find this bit of imperfection in improvised music, which keeps it alive for me. MIL: What made you choose that specific venue? NF: My friend and cello player Anne Müller gave a concert with her quartet in the Grunewald church and I was in the audience that night. The concert was amazing and the acoustics of the place really impressed me. The church community rents this place for little money, and after I played a few notes on the Bösendorfer Imperial D [a piano], I knew that I had to record something there. I didn’t regret it. We lit up some candles, drank some port and felt inspired throughout the whole night. MIL: Were all the pieces improvised or were some partially composed? NF: I had a few rough little themes here and there, but I never arranged them, so I tried to treat them like improvisations. My approach was really unorganised. Maybe that was also because I hardly had any time to get prepared before the session. So I decided that I don’t want to make it like a normal recording session, where you play your pieces a couple of times and get annoyed when you hit a wrong key. The sets I played were sometimes up to 40 minutes of improvisations, and afterwards we would only use five minutes of it. Peter reminded me that it would be good if I also played a few short, sparse improvisations. The only piece that was more or less pre-composed was “Over There it’s Raining”, but I never really had a set arrangement for it. That night it was somehow easy for me to wrap it up. MIL: What was Peter’s role exactly? NL: Yes, he was the one who had the idea for the whole project. So in a way I played this music for him. When I think back on those two nights, I know that the music would have been really different without him. At the time I was listening to his music a lot and I wanted to try something more minimal with my music. That’s what I mean when I say that I played the music for him. He was my muse, my motivator and also the person who brought this music to the world. Without him nobody would have given me a record deal, so he was also the producer. At one point he was lying on top of the strings in the piano and said, “Play a song that is called ‘Peter is Dead in the Piano’.” He knew that I would get motivated if he gave me some limitations, like for example, “Play a track where you start as quiet as you can and then get as loud as possible”—which became “Down Down”.MIL: The record has a melancholy, sombre feel. Is this something that you felt when playing? NL: I actually can’t tell what I feel when I play. But the saddest passage can make me so happy when I realise that I created something beautiful. MIL: Is emotion an element of your work in general? NL: I couldn’t say that I am particularly melancholy, but it is for some reason easier to get a connection to these feelings, I guess. It really depends on the situation. For example, the record would have sounded a lot different if I had recorded it during sunrise. MIL: Do you have plans to play this music live or on tour? If so, will Peter be involved? NL:Yes. I will tour quite a bit this year. In April I will be on a European tour withBalmorhea, and in the Fall I will tour with Peter again. In between I will play solo shows here and there. MIL: I’ve heard there are some electronic projects in your future. NL: I recently finished a project with Anne Müller, which is mostly electronic and cello. It will be released on Hush next year. Also, I finished a collaboration with F.S. Blumm, one of my favourite musicians ever, and I am truly proud of what we’ve done. It will be released this summer on Sonic Pieces. And I did a project with Tsukimono. This album will be released on Home Normal this year as well. And of course I will start working on my new solo album for Erased Tapes. MIL: And you work as an engineer and producer too. Who have you worked with so far and who do you hope to work with in the future? NL: I am about to finish Peter’s album, which has been really exciting so far. I love to work on other people’s material and to choose the right sounds for instruments and to be responsible for the mixing process. I love to make all these decisions; it’s like spicing someone else’s meal. But be warned, if you add too much salt it could ruin the soup. I will work with Grand Salvo and Dustin O’Halloran this year. I will be pretty busy with touring, so maybe I won’t be in the studio too much. We will see.
Από το επιδραστικό Drowned In Sound, η κριτική του Will Metcalfe, για το εξαίρετο «The Bells» του «Δημιουργού» Nils Frahm:
«Born from an exchange of tapes between Nils Frahm and composer Peter Broderick, The Bells is a record of astonishing beauty. Recorded over two Berlin nights and composed entirely of piano improvisations The Bells is part dare, part triumph.
Taught by the student of a student of Tchaikovsky, Frahm’s style is affecting; instilled with a sense of melancholia, he soothes and teases the listener as the record writhes between blackened terseness to a more soothing fluidity.
Opener ‘In the Sky and on the Ground’ finds Frahm toying with chords creating a solemn procession, before the strings are hammered, offering a finality his playing couldn’t quite anticipate.
At times this is a difficult one to grasp. The neo-classical movement is almost invisible to outsiders. Okay, record stores frequently stock this stuff, but it’s hard to remember the last time you browsed this section, right? Yet for the stigma, the perceived pretension surrounding this genre/movement/hell hole Nils Frahm is as easily cutting as anything you picked up through the alternative mainline of late.
The Bells is subtle – it’s for the days you wish you were in your own movie. Walk into the room, sit down and pull a fresh piece of paper from your desk before you begin typing on an old Olivetti typewriter; foreign cigarettes in a fresh packet on the corner of the table and cup of coffee in your hand – hell, maybe a Scotch. The genuine feel of artistic merit of this record adds an extra dimension – a feeling of exploration, of undiluted possibility.
Throughout The Bells there is a sense of underlying tension – peaking with the percussive doom of ‘Down, Down’. Where Frahm creates a cross-key cacophony, gentle riffs ripple against an overwhelming tide, each tone adding to the sense of impending, and ever current doom.
Despite the tension, the allusions to art-house chic, Frahm captures a sense of optimism, innocence even, and no more so than on the sloping beauty of ‘Over There, It’s Raining’ a track ringing with familiarity. Gentle flutters struggle for freedom but despite the optimism there is an overwhelming sense of sadness. This is the soundtrack to winning the final battle in a war you have already lost.
There are moments when the improv comes through – notably on the frustrating indulgence of ‘Small Me’ where the title may, or may not, be a reflection on the underwhelming tinkling of the accompanying piece. Perhaps this is the moment the record ends up playing to the critics, as Frahm’s sense of charm leaves him stranded while listeners lie back until the worst is over.
It might be fair to say that at times there are similarities between Frahm’s impending sense of loss, and the digital complexities of Richard D James’ ‘Avril 14’ and in fact drukqs in its entirety. But in making such a comparison you feel exposed, like a 14 year-old at a cocktail party whose enthusiasm only goes so far in making up for a lack of experience.
The Bells is a record that showcases the incredible talents of Nils Frahm. True – it is permeated by a sense of familiarity but that does little to diminish his achievements. From an outsider looking in, and that is very much how this is, The Bells is an excellent foothold into the baffling world of neo-classical composers. This is well worth a shot.»
«Αν και σχετικά σύντομη η γνωριμία μας με τον καλλιτέχνη Frahm, εντούτοις διαφαίνεται ότι μελλοντικά θα μας εκπλήξει ποικιλοτρόπως, ιδιαίτερα αν λάβουμε υπόψη και το τελευταίο του πόνημα με την βερολινέζα τσελίστρια Anne Müller, στ’ οποίο παρεκκλίνει της νεοκλασικής για να επανεφεύρει το… glitch.
Αρχικώς, η επιλογή της Müller μόνο τυχαία δεν θα μπορούσε να χαρακτηρισθεί, αφού όντας μέλος του Wolf-Ferrari Ensemble, καθώς και οι νεοκλασικές της επιρροές, οδήγησαν σε ιδανικό ταίριασμα.
Το άνοιγμα του “7Fingers” είναι μεγαλοπρεπές με τον άκρατο μινιμαλισμό του “Teeth” και το όργανο της Anne σε πρώτο πλάνο, για να το διαδεχθεί αμέσως μετά ο εξαιρετικός, ομότιτλος, νεοκλασικός ηλεκτρονικός ύμνος. Μνημειώδες είναι και το επαναλαμβανόμενο κεντρικό, κυκλικό, ηχητικό μοτίβο του ευφυώς τιτλοφορημένου “Let My Key Be C”, που καθηλώνει με την μελωδική του αμεσότητα. Το “Show Your Teeth” αποτελεί μια ιδεατή, επιτυχής συνεύρεση των Autechre με τον Paganini, ενώ η επική υπερβολή του κινηματογραφικού “Because This Must Be”, μπορεί μόνο να προλογίσει το αλά Boards Of Canada θαύμα του “Journey For A Traveller”. Εκλεπτυσμένο δείγμα ‘classicotronica’ (σ.σ. επιτρέψτε μας τον όρο) αποτελεί και το “Duktus”, ενώ η προσπάθεια του Frahm να τραγουδήσει στο ύστατο “Long Enough”, μάλλον δεν πετυχαίνει απόλυτα τον στόχο της, αφού μάλλον τον προτιμούμε σιωπηλό & συγκεντρωμένο πίσω από το πιάνο του ή/και τα ηλεκτρονικά του.
Εν ολίγοις, απαραίτητο…»
Διανέμεται αποκλειστικά στην Ελλάδα από την Recordisc σε cd και βινύλιο.