Highlights: Keep, Less, Familiar…
Nils Frahm is a contemporary German composer with a wintry, minimalist style that is likely to remind you of Erik Satie. Frahm's fifth record, Felt, consists of nine understated, self-consciously gorgeous soundscapes – cold, moody, atmospheric.
Unlike Jacaszek’s Glimmer (also from this year), Felt seems a remarkably cohesive, substantial, fully realised work. Frahm plays the kind of modern classical music that is concerned with being both intellectual and appealing. Some of these piano lines may sound disjointed, random or thrown in for the sake of style, but once you get into the mood of this thing, it will all make perfect sense. Felt is clever, thoughtful, melodic stuff. Some of these songs do sound like snippets, experiments, half-realised ideas, but much like Satie a century ago, Frahm makes you see that half-realised doesn’t equal half-baked. And the closing three-part piece, "More", is a thing to behold. A classical epic of breathtaking beauty.
It's great to have a record like this amid the cheaper thrills of 2011's pop music. Felt is a chilling and mesmerizing album that creates both beautiful imagery and a rare sense of intellectual contentment.