Published Feb 03, 2016With nonkeen, wunderkind pianist Nils Frahm has reformed his boyhood band, assembling their tape-recorded experiments into nine abstract instrumentals. The result, titled The Gamble, somehow manages to sound off the cuff and beautifully arranged at the same time, with carefree notes that glow as colourfully as the album cover. Almost entirely improvised, these nine songs evoke the playfulness and spontaneity of youth.
It's tempting to describe nonkeen as second generation of Krautrock, but the sound is all their own, a syrupy blend of luminous keys, subtle bass and tumbling percussion. Analogue instruments contribute a strong sense of warmth, reverberating from each touch. The album is launched with "The Invention Mother" a thrilling circuitry board of synths that rise and fall over imperfect acoustics. Tape manipulation is especially apparent on the lead single "Chasing God Through Palmyra," where a shadowy vocal loop nearly forms a chorus. The sample is then revisited on "Animal Farm," where it sounds significantly heavier and more slowed. "Pink Flirt" rises with pensive ambience before the rhythm is changed halfway through.
The Gamble takes some extraordinary risks, but the rewards are glorious. (R&S)