On what seems to be coming across as his magnum opus—critical acclaim, 75 minutes long, snuck away to build his dream studio—Nils Frahm delivers a work occasionally self-indulgent, but rife with beauty.
When he’s on, Frahm crafts a landscape with unexpected detailing that simultaneously feels like a single brush stroke. The album opens with distant footsteps before an archaic small ensemble collection evokes a hymnal connotation. The longing string gestures eventually melt into a steadfast electronic groove highlighted by layers of windy synths. It’s combinations and transitions like these that make Nils Frahm stand out, as his knack for momentum makes large swaths of time dissipate. The title-track sees dark, oscillating textures gradually coalesce into one rhythmic unit before a keyboard melody wanders atop the bustling foundation.
Sometimes this desire for oddball ensemble combinations makes for a disjointed experience, however. After sputtering around on the piano alone for My Friend the Forest, a trumpet appears for the first time, conjuring a more grappling mood than the meditative piano lines. After solo work, the chorus returns to offer some sort of depressing funeral march. The timbres just don’t gel as well as the initial pair of tunes resulting in a less natural flow of events.
There’s not really a moment on this album that sounds bad, but it feels like perhaps Frahm tried to spread himself too thin over the categories of electro-acoustic, post-classical, and ambient, making for moments that don’t gell together as impeccably as they could.