Nils Frahm: Felt (Erased Tapes)
After collaborating with Anne Müller on the fantastic 7fingers earlier this year, Nils Frahm once again works his way toward the top of my 2011 favorites list with this stellar solo record. While the opening track “Keep” is not so far off course from the wonderfully layered, rich sounds of 7fingers, much of Felt feels more solitary and stripped down. According to the press release, Frahm started working on these more intimate, subdued piano pieces as a means of being respectful to his neighbors. Often time the piano is dampened with cloth or other acoustic limitations, lending it a muted quality wherein the physical mechanics of the instrument take on a life of their own. So not only do you hear the lovely music he’s composed, but it’s inseparable from the moving parts and surface noise of the instrument’s hardware. The hammers and pedals all move in time with the music in audible ways, and I think I can even hear Frahm himself breathing and his actual playing. This delicate touch and starkness serves him well across the board, with its title resonating throughout. Only on the aptly named closer “More” does the arrangement get more active and lively, capturing some of the magic of his previous collaboration while serving as a nice, lush conclusion to these more intimate pieces. Extremely compelling and beautiful, Frahm is one of my new favorites.