Friday, 1 September 2017
Nils Frahm - The Bells (2009)
The end result clearly displays Frahm's talent for melody and harmony, and a Jarrett-esque knack for pulling instant classics out of thin air. But even more than that, The Bells is primarily an album about exploiting the resonances of the piano and the ambient atmosphere of the church to their fullest extent. It's certainly no mellow, Harold Budd-like chillout experience, although these moments are evident - but if you were to use this album for relaxation you'll frequently find the mood punctured by several instances of Frahm letting rip at full power, like someone taking a snooze on a churchyard bench only to be jolted awake by pealing bells.
Inspired by the recording venue, Frahm seems to enjoy these bell-like piano tones ringing through the reverberating space as majestically as possible. I'm reminded more than once of Erik Satie's Ogives, especially a recent ECM New Series rendering by Sarah Rothenberg (the album centered around Feldman's Rothko Chapel; may post it at some point). Stirring, invigorating stuff.