Album Review: Old Friends New Friends by Nils Frahm
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
musicOMH.com - 80 Based on rating 4
If the pandemic gave us anything, it was time to reflect, take stock, and remind ourselves what we hold important. For German musician, composer, and producer Nils Frahm, it provided him with the opportunity to dive deep into his vaults and find some forgotten gems. The result is Old Friends New Friends, a new double album composed of orphaned compositions from various projects circa 2009-2021.
Tiptoeing towards being an ambient album, because of the almost uninterrupted background of rain and well constructed track list, but Nils Frahm has a masterful way of communicating a story through the undulating piano keys that makes his music too stirring to be in the background. On first listen, Old Friends New Friends came across as cool and melancholic, but foraging deeper into the folds of music lies an urgency and lightness. "Weddinger Waltzer", is at first a delicate, sombre piece, but three listens in and it .
Nils Frahm is no stranger to minimalism, but on Old Friends New Friends, the Berlin-based pianist and composer homes in on every tiny detail. Over the course of the 80-minute solo piano record, he gives each note ample space to ring, relishing the pauses as much as the simple melodies. It's telling that he opens the album with a hushed (but hardly silent) tribute to John Cage's 4'33": This is a subtle, introspective album that encourages us to listen to the minutiae as much as the whole picture.
Nils Frahm could scarcely be accused of being a maximalist - sitting at the cutting edge of a generation of musicians blending modern classical with electronic music, his whispered incantations have a frosted eeriness to them. 'Old Friends, New Friends' however takes this a step further - a decade-long series of piano meditations, often little more than fractured icicles of white and black notes. Amid its spartan templates, however, you can find warmth, humour, and companionship.