BEST OF 2012: 15. Nils Frahm – Screws

Everyone has a couple of artists about whom they are evangelical. You buy their albums for other people, certain titles get kept in a permanent spot by the hi-fi and when nothing else quite hits the spot you reach for their catalogue. This last year, one of mine has been Nils Frahm, whose piano-based music toys with my mind in a way which is both beguiling and unnerving. The thrill of good music is one of my great pleasures in life. The unspoken connection made when a record or performance takes off is majestic. But, very occasionally, you hear music which seems to chime with your soul, stop your thoughts and lay siege to your brain. For me, Frahm’s ‘Wintermusik‘ is one such example. I have lost track of how many times I have played that in the months since I finally got hold of it. It is heartbreakingly simple, utterly enthralling and quite fabulously crafted. Which is all the more remarkable when you learn that it was only ever originally intended as a Christmas gift for his family and friends. If I could afford to, I would offer to buy a copy for every person who reads this piece, in the hope that it would bring as much pleasure to you as it has me.

Nils12

Long introductions aside, and having since also released 2011’s best kept secret ‘Felt‘, Frahm unleashed ‘Screws‘ initially as a free download accompanied by a blog post explaining its creation. When you ply your trade and earn your crust by playing the piano, a thumb break is pretty much disastrous. Such circumstances befell Frahm early in 2012 but, rather than accept defeat, he crafted these nine pieces, all playable with one digit fewer than your average ivory tickler possesses. Going against doctor’s orders, these beautiful and sparse solo piano tunes came together during the empty late nights left when Frahm had to cancel his commitments due to the injury. ‘Screws‘ is blessed with the same emotive simplicity that made 2009’s ‘Wintermusik‘ such an essential listen and, while he regards it as something of a temporary stopping point en route to something more fully formed, ‘La‘ is one of several tracks to float free of the speakers and deliver an emotional punch.

As with much of the Erased Tapes output, once you’ve heard one piece by one of their artists, you’ll want the lot. And, when it comes to Frahm, I cannot urge you strongly enough to let ‘Felt‘, ‘Screws’ and, of course, ‘Wintermusik‘ into your world. Enjoy.

Screws is still available as a free download, including a delightful 24 bit lossless option. Fans are in the process of reworking it here.

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