Published Jul 15, 2016Like a rare astronomical event, nonkeen have aligned for their second full-length release of 2016. The 13 new songs on Oddments of the Gamble still feature the band's incandescent arrangements, but their sophomore effort finds the band in a slightly different phase, revealing a more melancholic shape, and sounding notably hazier than on February's The Gamble. The lushly textured instrumentals also feel more improvised, their glinting beauty occasionally eclipsed by unyielding reverb. Nonetheless, Oddments is a thrilling listen.
Like The Gamble, these songs take their component parts from nonkeen's childhood jams, culling early 8-track tapes then splicing them with more contemporary recordings. Lead single "Diving Platform" is a granite slate of sound before Nils Frahm plunges in with his shimmering ivories, while songs like "The Journey of Hello Peter" or "Obviously Algebra" are adorned with arpeggios. And while Frahm's work on the keys is undeniably brilliant, it is the deft drumming of Frederic Gmeiner that truly propels this record, as evidenced on the songs "Glow" or "The Monkey in the Machine."
For an album comprised entirely of outtakes, Oddments of the Gamble sounds surprisingly realized and complete. Many of these songs could easily have appeared on the band's fantastic debut, if it were not for the issue of space. At this point, it almost seems like nonkeen have amassed a universe of beautiful music — they're just doling it out to listeners piecemeal, allowing us brief glimpses into their starry cosmos. (R & S Records)