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While a musician’s ability to overcome the temporary loss of a thumb certainly doesn’t match the achievements of the Paralympians last summer, there’s something similarly uplifting about the genesis of Nils Frahm’s latest, delicate album.
Provoked by an unfortunate accident involving a bunk bed and gravity, Screws – named after the four pieces of metal doctors used to hasten the healing process – finds the increasingly acclaimed pianist inspired by his predicament to compose within his limitations rather than follow doctor’s advice and leave his instrument alone during his recovery.
The back-story is, arguably, unimportant: it’s likely only trained musicians would be aware of the hindrances he faced. In keeping with much of Frahm’s work to date, these are deceptively simple, minimalist sketches in which the personality of the piano – its timbre, the creak of its hammers – is of as much importance as the performer’s.
But these nine pieces – one for each finger, presumably, written and recorded over nine consecutive evenings – are meditative celebrations of his love for his instrument, one from which he (as he himself says) “pathetically” thought he might be separated.
They are, accordingly, full of a tender emotion that more often than not overcomes the fact that they’re sometimes closer to the New Age avenues explored by George Winston than, say, the work of Erik Satie. Frahm himself initially only deemed the collection worthy of a free download rather than a commercial release.
However, as with the latter composer’s Gymnopédies, the atmosphere they evoke is no less significant than their melodies, and there’s a gentle melancholy at the heart of the best tracks – like You, the album’s opener – that is impossible to ignore.
Re, too, is imbued with a sadness that lifts towards its end as his undamaged right hand sweeps briefly up his keyboard, while Me – enveloped in tape hiss – is at times so insubstantial as to be barely there. But, though these 28 minutes drift by almost imperceptibly, they’re evocative, intimate and surprisingly moving. Sometimes it’s about what we do with what we have rather than what we lack.
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
No. 42 Best Albums Of 2011 (Felt) --The Guardian
Felt is a transportative album, a balm for troubled minds --Bristish Broadcasting Corporation
Top Customer Reviews
an understatement. He is a man who knows that less can be more and
once again, with his new album 'Screws', we find ourselves in gentle,
reflective territory with these nine sublime piano compositions. That our
host chooses to record the instrument up close and personal (I'd guess
that only one overhead microphone is employed) and that he leaves in the
incidental creaks and squeaks accidently made during their registration
gives the performances a sense of otherworldly intimacy and gravitas.
There is a quasi-classical sensibility at work in this music which
occasionally suggests the sound worlds of such composers as Eric Satie and
Carl Neilsen and perhaps even a fleeting shadow of Bach-like elegance at times.
Hypnotic, meditative, inward-looking and infinitely graceful, these inventions
work on both mind and spirit simultaneously. There is no escaping their magic.
It is almost impossible to find a favorite here when every moment demands
attention but if I had to choose one track to keep for a dark day somewhere
close to the end of the world then it would have to be the exquisite 'La';
a piece so beautiful that time seems to stand still until the very last note.
My final review of 2012 and my album of the year.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
not really into classical music but this is lovely; a musician friend of mine introduced me to it, its sublimePublished on 30 July 2013 by A. C. Cox