Nils Frahm’s work lives within the grey space between ambient, neoclassical and different types of experimental music. The Berlin-based composer and producer’s output tends to recall Philip Glass and Aphex Twin in equal measure, however he is launched the whole lot from downtempo dubby to theatrical scores. Though he performs on a battery of synthesizers, keyboards and digital devices, he’s most intently related to the piano, each as a performer – final yr previous mates, new mates was solely the newest in a protracted line of solo piano recordings and because the founding father of Piano Day, a global celebration of the instrument. However his new album, animal music, doesn’t embrace any piano. Centered on a largely digital palette, Frahm’s first assortment of contemporary materials in 4 years is extra evocative of Warp Data than Erik Satie.
Frahm began recording music for animals throughout the first yr of the pandemic, when lockdowns put a lot of each day life on maintain, and he appears to have discovered inspiration in solitude. Its tempos are uniformly sluggish, its tracks lengthy – 4 songs over 20 minutes every – and its patterns repetitive; he’s clearly in no rush to go anyplace. His endurance is palpable on “Stepping Stone,” the place aerial drones are layered over jagged washes of glass harmonica performed by his spouse, Nina. His contributions instill a welcome spirit of collaboration within the in any other case introverted firm, which at instances dangers taking part in as if it was designed with out an viewers in thoughts.
As is the case with most of Frahm’s music, the items listed below are elegant and eminently tasteful, if a little bit too buttoned up at instances. “Sheep in Black and White” demonstrates his penchant for tranquility, stretching out a tentative synth riff that slowly disintegrates over the course of 24 minutes. “World of Squares” offsets lush monophonic synths with cloudy strings in a approach paying homage to a very refined pressure of ’90s ambient techno. music for animals is meditative and sprawling. However an essence of one thing cinematically sinister flexes beneath its frosty floor, and that darkish edge proves to be one among its most alluring features.
Nonetheless, after greater than three hours, music for animals is troublesome to digest in its entirety; there’s a high-quality line between affected person and boring. Frahm’s prolonged monitor lengths are presumably supposed to advertise immersion, however after some time they really feel forgiving. For all of the sumptuousness of its supplies, there aren’t sufficient occasions to benefit stretching them so lengthy; sitting with Frahm’s hermetic album can really feel like watching exquisitely hued paint dry.
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