I’ve said previously that I am a flicker. Give me a remote and a tiny lull in a TV program and I’ll hit the buttons to see what else is on. On Wednesday night I was doing this again when I came across the BBC 6 Music Late Night Prom featuring the ‘Ambient Duo’ A Winged Victory For the Sullen, and a German pianist called Nils Frahm. I’d never heard of either of them, and because I had flicked halfway through had missed nearly all of the set by AWVFTS, coming in just as Nils Frahm started his. I’m not sure how to describe his music, its quite rhythmical and I guess it could also be described as ‘ambient’. But I’m willing to bet that his eyes roll if ever he is asked in an interview to put a label to his music.
Born in Hamburg, he was taught classical piano, but he was also drawn to contemporary composers/musicians. Reading interviews with him only go to show how little I know about certain music. He cites people like Keith Jarrett (who he?), Arvo Pärt (vaguely rings a bell) and Ralph Towner (never heard of him) as inspiration. Listening to the concert I was reminded of the music of Tangerine Dream. In the 1990s I bought a Tangerine Dream album. I was introduced to their music through the Tom Cruise movie Risky Business. The track Love on a Real Train was composed for the soundtrack and even now I think of it as a standout piece of music. Back then I went in to my local HMV in Poole and picked up a Tangerine Dream album expecting more of the same. I’ve no idea of the album’s name but unfortunately instead of finding loads of similar tracks, I really wasn’t keen on it. After giving it a couple of plays I took it back and swapped it for a Jack Dee video. It would be interesting to see if I heard it again whether I would like it, now that I am a bit more sophisticated in my tastes.
Back to Nils Frahm, in the concert he played a piece called Hammers which reminds me of Steve Reich’s Phase. He also played a track called Toilet Brushes, in which he uses 2 toilet brushes as drumsticks and the inside of the piano as the drum. We haven’t watched all of the concert yet, but it’s available to listen to for the next month on the iplayer (I think it’s only listen-to-able for those in the UK) so I definitely plan on watching it soon. He is someone who’s work I’d like to get more acquainted with. So far my favourites are Berduxa which I think is a brand new one, and Says, which was released on his 2013 Album.
What about you: Are you a fan of ambient music? Have you already come across Nils Frahm? Have you ever returned music to the shop?