Release Date: Sep 11, 2015
Record label: LateNightTales
Genre(s): Electronic, Jazz, Ambient, Downtempo, Spoken Word, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, IDM, Comedy/Spoken
If you are interested in music and haven’t been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ll know that master of multiple musical talents Nils Frahm is one of the true innovators in modern music. With each release he revels in experimentation while constantly paying homage to the greats of the classical cannon, and is as equally at home performing on a homemade synthesiser as he is playing a grand piano with a pair of toilet brushes. The effective poster-boy for label Erased Tapes, he is prolific not just in his own releases but frequently appears in both production and instrumental roles in collaboration with many others on the label’s roster, including Peter Broderick and Olafur Arnalds.
Few artists command the attention of the art-music avant-guard and the experimental fringes of pop music in the way that Nils Frahm does. After playing the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Radio 6 Music Proms this summer, Frahm cements his place as one of music’s most distinctive and influential voices by contributing to the ever-intriguing Late Night Tales compilation series. Frahm, who is signed to famed experimental label Erased Tapes, uses this compilation to present precisely the eclectic mix of artists you'd expect from someone who makes it his business to dissolve genre and defy convention.
If you weren’t already aware, Late Night Tales is the name of a series of mixes, put together by well-known artists, to be listened to in the wee small hours, preferably right before bed. Like most collections of this kind, they are like those compilation tapes or CD-Rs that your friends or loved ones used to pass down to you as a way of expressing what their music taste is to you in one small, easily consumed dose. German composer and musician Nils Frahm is an ideal candidate for this series, having produced a dozen CDs of ambient and modern classical that fit well as a soundtrack to sleepytime.
In my corner of the world, a harsh, feverish summer has finally given way to a crisp fall. The heat still hangs in the air from time to time, a reminder of long days when traveling outdoors was a trial. During those triple digit degree days, I found respite in night-time bike rides, observing the stars as the wind sped along my face. I always listen to music while biking, but my companion for nearly all of these adventures was Nils Frahm’s iteration of the Late Night Tales series.
Nils Frahm's musical curation of the latest edition of Late Night Tales leans on the side of the slow burning, the meditative and the hypnotic; it's a listening experience for those who appreciate subtle complexity. Frahm mixes and layers various genres, especially jazz and electronic, with organic natural sounds and gently humming drones, and a number of the featured compositions have been slowed, to great effect. Most notably he not only slowed Boards of Canada's 2000 track "In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country," but appears to have emphasized both the beats and the keyboards, transforming it into a narcotic, molasses-slow drip.
When Nils Frahm curates a 'Late Night Tales' instalment, expectations are high. Does he deliver? Of course he does.Would anyone else have turned John Cage's silent, avant-classical piece '4:33' into a minimalist piano movement? Or slowed down Boards Of Canada's career standout 'In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country' to a haunting 75bpm pace?He also weaves in distorted cowboy songs and piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz playing 'Flight Of The Bumblebee', before switching to dub techno and experimental jazz. There's even a cameo appearance from his girlfriend's cat.
As with the majority of the Late Night Tales mix CDs, German composer/pianist Nils Frahm's volume isn't a beatmatched DJ mix attempting to emulate a night out at a dance club, but rather a dreamlike sound collage highlighting inspirations and favorite items in the artist's record collection. Frahm takes a more surrealist bent than other contributors to the series, throwing in selections from his 78-rpm recording collection, layering in spoken word and classical pieces, and slowing down Boards of Canada by accident, but leaving it in because it sounds even more mysterious. Frahm starts the collection by jokingly covering John Cage's eternal think piece "4'33"," but instead of four-and-a-half minutes of silence, he constructs a gentle, slowly paced piano melody, adding some delicate feedback toward the end.