Nils Frahm - All Melody

Nils Frahm — All Melody

Erased Tapes, 2018

Pianist and composer Nils Frahm recorded this album in the Funkhaus, a 1950s-era recording complex along the River Spree in the former East Berlin. He rebuilt the place from the ground up, literally redoing all the woodwork and rewiring shit and building his own pipe organ. “All Melody” is the conceptual afterbirth of this physically reconstructed Funkhaus. The album’s connection to place, or the extent to which it’s infused with the architectural and emotional sensibilities of the Funkhaus, is something you can see even in the track titles. This is meditative, ambient piano with a jazzy bent. It’s also got richly layered instrumentation in horns and all sort of weird percussion and harmonium and choir voices. The album is the building, and vice versa — labyrinthine, monolithic, astonishingly cohesive.

RIYD: ambient piano compositions, modern classical

BEST: 4, 6, 9, 10, 12


1. The Whole Universe Wants To Be Touched [1:58] — Off-kilter, breathy chant-singing begins the album. Foreboding drone underneath.

2. Sunson [9:11] — Track 1 leads right into Track 2, it’s a good idea to play them one after the other. Sunson alternates between droney acoustic sustain and these cool sections of sampled plucked guitars. Percussion and winds find their place. Time signature is weird as hell.

3. A Place [7:02] — Bouncy electronic guitar stuff. More sung oohs and ahhs. Super melodic, almost tropical or something. Ambient sweetness.

4. My Friend The Forest [5:17] — Mind-bendingly gorgeous ambient piano.

5. Human Range [7:00] — Like the title says, we get a whole range of moods and styles here. Squeaking trumpet and breathy singing weave in between plodding percussion.

6. Forever Changeless [2:48] —More gorgeous ambient piano, wow.

7. All Melody [9:31] — Techno-inspired epic. Dark electronics, like being inside the Tron world. A balance of programmed sound and improvisation.

8. #2 [9:41] — A slightly more light-hearted extension of Track 7. The last 3 minutes build into this huge crescendo that’s totally amazing.

9. Momentum [5:21] — Subtler electronics in the ambient mist.

10. Fundamental Values [3:51] — Back to that incredible piano. Strings, too.

11. Kaleidoscope [8:17] — Intense, wild composition. Rushing percussion and stacked voices wheel around you.

12. Harm Hymn [4:11] — Dark, soft hymn. Ambient waves of harmonium.


Will Gottsegen