Nils Frahm has been building a reputation, persona, legend around himself for several years now. After two world tours, soundtracking several unique films, building the world’s largest organ, and moving his entire studio into the historical Funkhaus in Berlin, it’s clear there’s something special about this one.
Still reeling from seeing Nils Frahm live in Funkhaus last week, I took a listen to his new album, All Melody for the first time. I was caught off guard when comparing it to his live show. The live set in Funkhaus, now Frahm’s stomping ground, was a moving mixture of muted techno and neo-classical piano that feels like it should blend so well, but it made the hearts of the audience soar. Frahm was dancing between one station of keyboards and synthesizers to the other station that included a full mixing board and a grand piano. Frahm’s hips don’t lie, he is clearly German and was clearly having a good time.
Compared with his surprisingly high-intensity live show and his new album, All Melody, you might not think that Frahm was the wizard behind the curtain of both. The album itself crescendos from dramatic highs to the softest most subtle lows in a matter of minutes. This musical rollercoaster can, in part, be chocked up to his move into the halls of former East Berlin’s famed Funkhaus. This absolutely breathtaking facility sits on the banks of the River Spree and was constructed as a recording and broadcasting studio for the German Democratic Republic.
The obvious attention to detail that went into the construction of Funkhaus also went into the creation of All Melody. It took Frahm two years to build his perfect studio and just as long to write, record, mix and master the album. The instruments used on the album are as varied as those in an orchestra: strings, brass, woodwinds, a percussion section, a choir and of course, piano and friends. The range of feelings experienced on All Melody is more expansive and than that of any of Frahm’s previous recording efforts.
But All Melody isn’t all serious. Almost every song includes playful bits, some almost danceable. The second track on the album, “Sunson” takes notes from the second track of Frahm’s edition of Late Night Tales, “Liquindi 2,” a percussive recording of the Baka Forest People of Southeast Cameroon. Both tracks have a submerged percussion feel, if they weren’t so muted, booties would be shakin’.
All Melody was released on January 26th, on Schmutz favorite Erased Tapes. Though Nils already played his four sold out shows at Funkhaus, be sure not to miss him next time he rolls through.