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Album of the week: Nils Frahm 'Late Night Tales'

Take a peak inside Nils Frahm's musical box.

Artist: Various (compiled and mixed by Nils Frahm)
Album: Late Night Tales
Label: Late Night Tales
Release date: 11/09/15

Brought in for the next installment of the Late Night Tales series is Nils Frahm, his name joining past contributors such as Jon Hopkins, Trentmøller, Django Django and Bonobo. The Late Night Tales concept is simple: invite quality, renowned artists to delve into their collection to pick music and put it together anew, aimed for listening in the small hours. We can hope the array of styles is blended together successfully, and for this chapter any doubts are dimmed when this German composer is in charge. Known for his individualistic approach to the keys whether that's a Moog, grand piano or Roland synth.

Starting things where we mean to go with a steady ‘cover' from the pianist himself of John Cage's 4:33 (now, with actual music), the opener of keys is followed up with dramatic sea waves washing over African drums. The end of the third track is mixed into spoken word from poet Ishmael Reed. “We were discussing rhythm, and I said rhythm makes everything move,” overlapped with the incoming sounds of the brilliant Four Tet. A short but sweet visit to 0181, we sit with Hebden's drum loops for around a minute before they're suddenly disrupted by the vinyl crackles of George Autry's 1936 You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven, going from new to old. In between the jazzy twists, interludes are deployed effectively, with down-tempo It Was Willow and well-known orchestral piece Flight of the Bumblebee. Frahm pulls off the juxtaposition of classical intertwined with modern, with an evolving arrangement.

A switch to dub is flicked on track 13, before we're transported back five decades for the second appearance of trumpeter Miles Davis and the heartfelt brass of Générique, the first jazz hero to drop in. Beautiful work from pianist Dinu Lipatti transpires into quite sinister string action from Colin Stetson, the tension built then cut short with gentle Cutting Branches For A Temporary. An effective middleman for Nina Simone up next, her rich and warming vocals on Who Knows Where The Time Goes a heart wrenching yet delightful addition. The melancholy is followed with some cat purrs - as you'd expect - the animal noise returning on next selection of Dub Tractor, which resembles a music box with an ambient, filtered beat.

Frahm then revisits his first score for German film Victoria, Them, taking to keys to end how he started. Finally, LNT listening is sealed with a tale; heads up Irish accent fans it's delivered by Cillian Murphy. At some points Frahm sticks to sleepy tunage, later on deciding to go off and paint a collage of bizarre layers. Bringing us masterpieces, they're re-made cinematically, layering parts of vinyl and mp3, combining classic and contemporary artists. Structured inventively, while keeping a tight hold on the pace, he gets an A+ for effort – and execution. This homage to some greats in the composition world arrives just in time for autumn and moments of cozying with duvets.


01 Nils Frahm: "4:33" (Exclusive John Cage cover version)
02 Baka Forest People Of South East Cameroon: "Liquindi 2"
03 Carl Oesterhelt / Johannes Enders: "Divertimento Fur Tenorsaxophon Und Kleines Pt.4"
04 Four Tet: "0181"
05 George Autry: "You're The Only Star"
06 Boards of Canada: "In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country"
07 Bibio: "It Was Willow"
08 Dictaphone: "Peaks"
09 Vladimir Horowitz: "The Flight Of The Bumble Bee"
10 Miles Davis: "Concierto de Aranjuez"
11 Victor Silvester & His Ballroom Orchestra: "Talk Of The Town"
12 System: "SK20"
13 Rhythm & Sound: "Mango Drive"
14 Miles Davis: "Générique"
15 Dinu Lipatti: "O Herr Bleibet Meine Freunde BWV 147"
16 Colin Stetson: "The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man"
17 Penguin Café Orchestra: "Cutting Branches For A Temporary"
18 Nina Simone: "Who Knows Where The Time Goes"
19 Nina Jurish: "Cleo The Cat" (Exclusive track)
20 Dub Tractor: "Cirkel"
21 The Gentlemen Losers: "Honey Bunch"
22 Nils Frahm: "Them "Solo Piano Edit"" (Exclusive version)
23 Cillian Murphy: "In The Morning" (Exclusive spoken word piece)

WORDS | Emma Gillett

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