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Nils Frahm: Solo - review

Jul 26, 2015 Music

SoloIn a world of wireless streaming of music and YouTube smash hits, record companies are increasingly feeling like anachronisms. What then, of the idea of the perfectly curated record label, where every record fits a carefully thought-out aesthetic, from the artists to the cover art, from the recording technology to the sonic characteristics etched in the plastic?

In popular music history, a few labels have distinguished themselves in this way – notably Germany’s chamber jazz label ECM, and the ambient gothic sound of early 4AD releases. Erased Tapes is an exquisite addition to the curatorial label ideal, with each release arriving in gorgeous etched cardboard covers, and a music aesthetic that’s as recognisable as it is devoid of genre boundaries.

What all Erased Tapes releases share is a sense of space, a poised minimalism, together with a tendency to build bum notes, glitches and tape hiss into the very heart of a work of art. Nils Frahm’s Solo is as spare as it gets, but despite iTunes’ inadequate ‘new age’ tagging, it’s far from a conventional piano record. It’s lovely, but free of unnecessary sweetening, as it captures not just the notes, but also the sound of the keys being struck, and the hammers striking the strings. Gorgeous, and mysterious.


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