Improv & Avant-Garde 2011: 10 Favourites

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Improv & Avant-Garde 2011: 10 Favourites
Nils Frahm Felt (Erased Tapes)
While it might only be a rule by inference, it's one that Nils Frahm breaks ― he has recorded an "inside" piano album that leaps free of the instrument at several turns. Felt is so named elementarily for the thick layer of material Frahm installed atop the strings of his piano to facilitate late night / early morning play and recording. The latter was achieved by close placement of microphones at high gain near the swaddled strings. This sensitivity to sound additionally captured the mechanics of the piano, the pedal and key depressions, Frahm's breath and other extraneous room sounds as well. That liveliness, beyond the notes, arrays each piece in a much more physically and imaginatively rich context. For "Less" Frahm is content to leave the pure occurrences unadorned and complete. Elsewhere, as on opener "Keep," he builds layers upon layers of staccato performance and adds other instruments to fully fill in a chorus of sounds. "Unter" plays it for mystery as the piece devolves into a cavernous space where the piano falls away leaving muted background noise and lonesome whistling before melting into the concertina that opens the following track, "Old Thought." Through all its diversions Frahm manages to create an album that's still all of a piece, and one that focuses on the beauty and occult possibilities the piano still has enclosed.
Eric Hill

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