It’s a pretty exciting time to be a Nils Frahm fan. Not only is he about to embark on his first tour since 2015 – and his first Brighton performance since a tiny show at Green Door Store in 2011 – but he’s built his own studio and appears to be as prolific as ever. His latest album, All Melody, his seventh studio album, is further proof that Frahm is an exceptional musician. All Melody, like much of Frahm’s work, is a love letter to music itself and proof that it’s amaranthine, infinite and vital.
There’s a freedom to this record, too, presumably built out of this new studio. Frahm has created a musical world without restrictions and, unlike previous work, hasn’t delved into the project to make a premeditated album or explore a certain style or instrument. While Felt had sound restrictions and Screws had logistical restrictions, this is an all out liberation for Frahm. This means he’s able to investigate without regulation, which makes All Melody an indulgent, inventive and attractive prospect. Once again, it’s a personal affair and, of course, that’s no accident. One of the reasons he’s filling out big concert halls now is the personability of his music. All Melody is no different, as he burrows into the intimacy of the listener. His ambience is meant for you and only you and All Melody continues to strive towards that quest.
The burgeoning ‘Sunson’ is all the proof you need of that. Initially Frahm seemed to be stretching the limitations of classical music, but with All Melody he’s finally broken the doors down. At times, mostly with ‘Sunson’ and ‘#2’, he’s created full-scale, soaring electronic tracks that tower over the rest of the record, slowly but surely increasing in momentum and ascending to lofty heights. It’s a fascinating direction for Frahm and certainly starts to make sense of the fact he chose to tour this album after not touring the last few records.
In fact, the second half of the album is most reminiscent of the spiralling electronica of film scores by the likes of Vangelis and Hans Zimmer. Additionally, there’s a touch of Daft Punk’s soundtrack work for Tron: Legacy on ‘Kaleidoscope’. They’re all encompassing, enormous, encircling beasts of songs that swirl around your environment. The scale of this record is what is most impressive, it seems that this new studio has given Frahm the scope and confidence to make an encircling, substantial ambience that is bigger than anything he’s attempted before.
Moreover, at other times he seems to gravitate back towards the piano. ‘Fundamental Values’ is a beautiful, lugubrious song that pulls at the heartstrings, while ‘Forever Changeless’ sees Frahm exploring the jazz-piano. Frahm has trained as both a classical pianist and a jazz pianist and, as such, has extraordinary range as a musician. All Melody feels like his most diverse work to date and could perhaps be his most complete.
Essentially, Frahm is a virtuoso and an extraordinary worldbuilder. Proof that music can be omnipresent, he has the ability to capture the imagination in ways not many musicians can. Talking about the album Frahm stated that, “This record includes what I think sticks out and describes my recent musical discoveries in the best possible way I could imagine.” It’s further proof that Frahm is not just a musician, he’s an avid analyst, technician and, ultimately, a fan of how music is created and a passion to delve into why. There’s no doubt he’ll go down as one of the greats in music and All Melody is another step on that trajectory.