There is an intimacy about the work of Nils Frahm that is hard to explain. Like with every recording he wants to let you in a bit more; to his life and his world. Perhaps it is the recording set up, designed to capture not only the piano but the very essence of what is real and pure and true in the music. The creaks and cracks and clicks. The honest truth of recording if you like. It’s something I adore. I love when you hear the realities of movement and sound. There’s a seagull outside – who cares, leave it in. The chair is creaky – who cares, leave it in. And this approach really does work with minimalist piano because you create a texture that is real and embedded in the work without the need for soundclips and field recordings. A true ugly beauty. And Frahm embraces this idea so wonderfully.
The story behind this record also adds to the allure of the music. It’s really about a man having a career threatening accident then realising what is important to him. Frustration overcome by desire and ability to create – an exquisite taste of what Nils Frahm is capable of. This is bare, raw and beautiful.
Following on from last years brilliant ‘Felt’, ‘Screws’ approaches the piano in such simple terms. Having seen Frahm play live I am more than aware of the technical gift he possesses but, restrained here perhaps by the lack of one thumb he again focuses on creating simple, delicate moments that shimmer bringing calm to a world where chaos often reigns. Brilliant moments of reflection perhaps on a gift that is sometimes taken for granted.
This record highlights not just talent but a musical gift and a passion for music. It is what it is because of what happened yes, but mostly because Frahm has the desire to create such simple and beautiful work. And as E.F Schumacher once said “any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
From this offering it is clear that Frahm benefits from both genius and courage. Long may this continue.