Nils Frahm has finally returned from his unendurable hiatus with a new album, All Melody. Having rescinded from the stage in favour of an extended and, no doubt intense, period inside his laboratory, one can imagine him pulling his hair out over the musings which have unfurled in his latest work.
The brief but warming breezes of Shards choir open the album before giving way to the synths, panflutes and bass marimba of ‘Sunson’ and ‘A Place’, which swirl and pulse their way out of darkness into the most colourised sparkles of vibration. ‘My Friend the Forest’ and ‘Forever Changeless’, however, shift the tone of the album into the delicate vulnerability of the piano – the caressing creaks of wood invite us into the intimacy of Frahm’s honest unfoldings. It is here that the added value of Berlin’s Funkhaus studios become most apparent; these pieces speak volumes not in any grand gestures of orchestrations, but in the most subtle and endearing uses of space.
All Melody, however, is certainly a slow-mover; the snailing melodies of the trumpet and melding swells of texture on ‘Human Range’ contort around single points of fixation, whilst fragments of percussion and electronics shoot across the stereo spectrum – akin to the scraping of a hair comb – on ‘All Melody’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’. The album requires unperturbed patience in letting Frahm expand the sounds in his true build-until-it-bursts fashion.