Nils Frahm, born in 1982, had an early introduction to music. During his childhood he was taught to play piano by Nahum Brodski – a student of the last scholar of Tschaikowski. It was through this that Nils began to immerse himself in the styles of the classical pianists before him as well as contemporary composers. Today Nils Frahm works as an accomplished composer and producer in Berlin. In early 2008 he founded Durton Studio, where he has worked with Peter Broderick and Dustin O' Halloran amongst other fellow musicians. As the curator of the Swedish boutique label Kning Disk's Piano Series, Peter Broderick invited Nils to record a new album of piano improvisations – the result is 'The Bells', which will now be released on the London-based label Erased Tapes worldwide. Perhaps the most stunning aspect of what on the surface appears to be an entirely pre-planned and composed body of work comes with the discovery that these pieces were in fact improvised. These two friends share a common affinity in that they both possess an absolute mastery of melody, composition and performance – able to deliver with devastating effect. The modest Mr. Broderick states 'I remember thinking to myself as I lay there stunned, that I could spend ten years trying to write an amazing piece of piano music, and still it would never be half as good as these improvisations!' Recorded in a rented, beautiful old church in the heart of Berlin over two nights, Nils 'just played' with the occasional instruction from Peter 'I spouted "Make a song using only the notes C, E, and G", or "Make a song that you could imagine me rapping over the top of" (Track 8 – 'My Things'). At one point I was even inside the piano, laying on the strings, asking him to make a song called 'Peter Is Dead In The Piano'. The resultant work 'The Bells' shares the same excitement and air of playfulness. "I first met Nils after playing a concert in Berlin in early September, 2008. We had exchanged a few emails prior, in which we had agreed to swap some records in the mail. He came up to me after the show with a beaten brown package, which he had tried to post to me two times, but both times it was returned to him because I was out on tour when the postman tried to deliver it. At any rate, that night he handed me the package containing his first lp Streichelfisch and four cd-r’s of unreleased material. Later when I was getting in bed at the hotel, I pulled out my discman and popped in a disc of his that was labeled »Tonalagia: Piano Improvisations«. I laid back and pressed play, thinking I would fall asleep to the sound of some nice piano music. But the sound I heard was more than just nice. It was absolutely breathtaking, and it kept me awake staring at the ceiling until the cd was finished. Then I pressed play again. I had to hear it again. I think I managed to drift off at some point in the middle of the second listen, but I remember thinking to myself as I lay there stunned, that I could spend ten years trying to write an amazing piece of piano music, and still it would never be half as good as these improvisations! The next day I wrote to Nils and told him that very thought, and proposed the idea of him contributing to the solo piano series on Kning Disk. A couple months later, in mid November, I flew to Berlin to meet up with Nils and to witness the recordings of what was to become The Bells. We rented a beautiful old church in the heart of Berlin for two nights, with a wonderful old grand piano and the most amazing natural reverb I’ve ever heard. We set up (actually Nils did most of the work while I ran around the church trying out the huge pipe organ and harpsichord) two microphones on the piano, and three more out in the room to capture the sound of the church. And then Nils just played. I laid down on a pew in the middle of the big room and listened to his playing in the same position I had heard it for the first time, on my back, staring at the ceiling. Occasionally I arose and asked Nils to amuse my ears by making him improvise with different rules I spouted out off the top of my head, such as »Make a song using only the notes c, e, and g« (this one will be available as a bonus download track), or »Make a song that you could imagine me rapping over the top of« (track no. 8 – »My Things«). At one point I was even inside the piano, laying on the strings, asking him to make a song called »Peter is dead in the piano«. Those two amazing nights in the church left us with five and a half hours of recorded material, and together Nils and I have compiled what we think are the best pieces into this 40 minute collection. The role I played in putting this album together was a very small one, and yet somehow I feel more proud of this music than anything I have ever created on my own. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have." Peter Broderick February 9, 2009 Read more on Last.fm.
CONTEXT: Berlin-based pianist Nils Frahm is already a firebrand in the modern classical world, collaborating with contemporaries such as Peter Broderick, Ólafur Arnalds and Anne Müller. His unconventional approach to an age-old instrument, played contemplatively and intimately, has won him many fans around the world. As announced by Drowned In Sound, he finally returns on October 10th 2011 with the successor to his highly acclaimed solo piano works Wintermusik and The Bells. Released on Erased Tapes Records and entitled FELT, the album will coincide with a European tour in November 2011 – a truly memorable and magical live experience. CONTENT: Having recorded his last album live in a large, reverberant church, Nils Frahm now invites you to put on your headphones and dive into a world of microscopic and delicate sounds – so intimate that you could be sitting beside him. Recorded late at night in the reflective solitude and silence of his studio in Berlin, Frahm uncovers a new sound and source of inspiration within these peaceful moments: 'Originally I wanted to do my neighbours a favour by damping the sound of my piano. If I want to play piano during the quiet of the night, the only respectful way is by layering thick felt in front of the strings and using very gentle fingers. It was then that I discovered that my piano sounds beautiful with the damper.’ Captivated by this sonic exposition, he placed the microphones so deep inside the piano that they were almost touching the strings. This brought a host of external sounds to the recordings which most producers would try their hardest to hide: ‘I hear myself breathing and panting, the scraping sound of the piano's action and the creaking of my wooden floorboards – all equally as loud as the music. The music becomes a contingency, a chance, an accident within all this rustling. My heart opens and I wonder what exactly it is that makes me feel so happy.’ FELT creates its own personal microcosm, offering a refuge of tender and honest beauty. PREVIOUS ALBUM PRESS: 'The Bells is a record of astonishing beauty' (8/10) – Drowned In Sound 'Nils Frahm is poised to become something of a sensation' – The Economist's Intelligent Life ‘Emotionally charged piano music which always errs toward the melodic side of melancholy' **** – Mojo ‘If there’s any justice The Bells, along with his recently released Wintermusik set, will expose Frahm to a wider audience, a demographic with a seemingly insatiable appetite for more prime neo-classicism’ – BBC Music Read more on Last.fm.
Berlin-based contemporary composer Nils Frahm has built a steady reputation for his intimate, poignant piano recordings, yet they so far only showed a fragment of what to expect from a Nils Frahm concert. Frahm’s heart lies in improvisation, in the magic of a moment where, inspired by the space and the audience, his fingers can create new compositions loosely based around his familiar melodies. Spaces is an ode to the joy of live performance. It expresses Frahm’s love for experimentation and answers the call from his fans for a record that truly reflects what they have witnessed during his concerts. Breaking the convention of a traditional live album, Spaces was recorded over the course of two years in different locations and on various mediums, including old portable reel-to-reel recorders and cassette tape decks. These moments were later pieced together in his Durton Studio and referred to by Frahm as a collage of field recordings rather than a live album. It Includes surprise moments such as the sound of him banging a toilet brush on the piano strings to create a dub-sounding track. The decision to select takes that have people coughing and cell phones ringing show that his audience is an integral part of every performance. In his own words: ‘What I love most about playing in front of people has something to do with a certain kind of energy exchange. The attention and appreciation of my audience feeds back into my playing. It really seems as if there is a true and equal give and take between performer and listener, making me aware of how much I depend on my audience. And since the audience is different every night, the music being played will differ too. Every space I performed in has its own magic and spirit.’ – Nils Frahm Spaces was mastered by the gifted hands of Mandy Parnell and was released on November 19, 2013 via Erased Tapes. Read more on Last.fm.
Berlin-based composer Nils Frahm has fast become known as a prolific performer and recording artist with the piano at the core. Piano Day is an official body created by Nils and his closest friends to house various exciting, piano-related projects. The first project revealed by the Piano Day team is the building of what will be the world’s tallest piano: the Klavins 450. As the life-long dream of David Klavins, it even exceeds the currently largest upright piano there is, the Klavins M370. Situated in Germany, Tübingen, 1.8 tons in weight, 3.7 meters high, its longest strings are about 10 feet in length. And it was on this piano that Nils recorded eight improvised piano motifs in one sitting, which form his free new album, Solo. Once recorded, Nils began to think of ways to release the album as a gift to his fans, similarly to his 2012 release Screws, and that’s when Nils came up with the idea of Piano Day. With a target of 120.000 euros to reach, Nils eases his fans into sharing their money for the project with this free release. All direct donations and a portion from any record sales will go to the Klavins 450 project until the target has been hit. Solo is available for free download in 24-bit and mp3 format via www.pianoday.org Fans can also purchase the album on Vinyl, CD and DL via Erased Tapes worldwide. Read more on Last.fm.