As the summer months draw to a close and the autumnal hue cascades across the trees with a fiery glow, the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Tonight is pretty much the same as any other night as I put on my wellies and my eight stone dog gives me the look that says, ‘yes, it is time for me to take you out for a walk.’ However, tonight I have another pleasurable companion in the form of Nils Frahm’s latest offering, 'Felt'. I press play and the silence in my headphones is broken by the crackle of the fader going up as the recording of the first few dulcet notes being played by Nils’ fingers begins, but this is not your average post-classical ensemble. This album gives a confounding sense of realness, with an overwhelming amount of atmosphere and dynamics; an intimacy that transports you beside him into the studio at the moment of recording.
The techniques used in the recording of 'Felt' are nothing new in terms of production. The Beatles did it, along with a host of ambient artists and even Phil Collins did it. Yet no other artist has done it with as much panache and as much focus on the noises that occur within and also outside the vicinity of the instrument being recorded. For instance, the percussive element behind the pressing of the keys in ‘Keep,’ gives a very interesting and organic marriage between the notes and the mechanics of the piano. ‘Less’ begins with a faint breath and a shift of a stool followed by the slowly meandering serenade of ambient tones and sustained velvet-drenched chords.
The trees sway overhead as the dusk rolls over the hills and down the valley, the eerie whistling that ends ‘Unter’ has me glancing over my shoulder into the shadows expecting a local Fagin to appear poised and ready to ‘pick a pocket or two.’ It might look beautiful round here but it's still a shit hole. I find myself trying place my steps in time with the notes on ‘Old Thought’ one can only imagine what I must have looked like; its no easy feat I tell thee. My personal favourite is the album's closing track ‘More’, which displays 8 minutes and 55 seconds of absolute genius, with its syncopated rhythmic bliss and the mid way breakdown of power chord progressions. This is cinematic music at its best.
The silence in my head phones returns as I see my breath in the glow of the first streetlight I have seen in the last forty minutes. It's cold and I’m making my way back to the house, the dog is panting and I’m smiling from ear to ear. Probably the nicest little stroll I have had all year. Probably the nicest album too.
Posted: Wed 2 November 2011