Felt is a body of music so intimate and hushed you can practically hear the microphones breathing. Put together in late night sessions at his home studio, this third release from German modern classical impresario Nils Frahm has floor boards creaking and errant noises rustling in the gaps between his delicately poised chords, Frahm’s breathing faintly audible as his ghostly piano tinkering plays out. If autumn has so far been generous to neo-classical junkies with albums from the likes of droned string symphony experimenters A Winged Victory For The Sullen, then Felt is perhaps the season’s most enticing gift yet: a cryptic weave of indelible sounds and silences; an emotional juggernaut.
It’s a gimmick, sure, but it works. Nils Frahm wanted to compose and play on his instrument of choice in the middle of the night, without breaking the stillness of the hour or the patience of his neighbors. Apparently deciding that a brick on the soft pedal wouldn’t be enough to accomplish this, he put felt on the strings of the piano, dampening the instrument’s sound while still ensuring that it remains playable.
A wonderful, intimate and transportative new album from the German composer. Luke Turner 2011 A neighbour who spends the night hours playing the same track at full blast is frequently the stuff of ASBOs and short notices in newspapers. Even worse would be the prospect of Cromer’s finest speed-metal troupe Bogan Boot moving in next door for all-night practice sessions fuelled by cheap cigs and bargain booze.