Trance Frendz by Nils Frahm & Olafur Arnalds
The title of a piece of work can serve a myriad of functions – a clever or arresting title can pique the interest of a new listener, whilst other titles serve the purpose of contextualising a work (think Adele’s age – inspired 19, 21 and 25). Trance Frendz is a title that does both. After just one listen I realised that the ‘Trance’ in the title is equivocal – this work is certainly not trance in the Tiësto or Paul van Dyk sense, but it is perfectly transcendent ambient music. The ‘Frendz’ part owes to the relationship between Arnalds and Frahm, who work closely together from the latter’s Berlin studio. The intense creativity and spontaneity of this partnership is reflected in the product; Trance Frendz is the result of one night of improvisation.
This is not an album in the traditional sense. There is no curation or editing whatsoever, and the track titles derive from the time at which they were recorded. The feat of recording seven ethereal and immersive compositions from ‘20:17’ to ‘03:06’ is in itself impressive, and suitably illustrates the genius of these two musicians.
The tracks themselves have a delicate beauty to them, heightened by various subtleties throughout. The placement of microphones around the room creates a peripheral fuzz of background noise which adds to the cloudlike aurora. The first three tracks are gentle piano affairs, which complement the standout fourth track ‘23:52’, a tense gem which swells to an intense, powerful zenith. The mood continues as the night grows old, with the first post-midnight track ‘00:26’ offering the only regular rhythm on the record, whereas ‘01:41’ grows from a twinkling first half to a blissful, multi-layered second.
Final track ‘03:06’ draws the night to a close with the faint humming of one of the pair audible throughout, serving as a reminder of the unpolished beauty of this collection.