Nils Frahm is a German composer and musician whose work combines acoustic and electronic instruments with a primary focus on pianos and synthesizers. Both in studio and on-stage, his work employs vintage electronic gear as well as unconventional microphone placement and playing techniques, creating a unique, intimate sound. His recordings include solo piano works (such as 2009′s The Bells), prepared piano compositions (2011′s Felt), and melodic synthesizer-based pieces (2018′s All Melody) in addition to soundtrack work (2015′s Victoria). He has also produced experimental electro as part of the trio Nonkeen, and released collaborations with artists like F.S. Blumm, Anne Müller, Ólafur Arnalds, and DJ Shadow. His acclaimed concerts have been documented on releases like 2013′s Spaces and 2020′s Tripping with Nils Frahm. Two 2021 releases, Graz and Old Friends New Friends, consisted of previously unreleased piano works from his archives. Music for Animals, a three hour post-minimalist work containing no pianos, appeared in 2022.
Frahm’s debut LP, Streichelfisch, combining heavy electronic glitch with acoustic instruments, was released in 2005 on his AtelierMusik label. My First EP followed in 2006, and Electric Piano, marking Frahm’s shift to piano-based works, arrived in 2008. Two more solo piano works, Wintermusik (on Sonic Pieces) and The Bells (on Kning Disc), were well-received. Frahm began collaborating with many electronic and modern classical artists, including F.S. Blumm, Machinefabriek, Peter Broderick, and Anne Müller. The 2011 solo album Felt, featuring heavily atmospheric prepared piano compositions, arrived on Erased Tapes (home to most of Frahm’s subsequent releases), along with the synthesizer-based single “Juno.” The minimalist piano album Screws followed in 2012, and Frahm collaborated with Ólafur Arnalds on the Stare EP the same year. Juno Reworked, a 12” EP featuring both tracks from the “Juno” single as well as remixes by Luke Abbott and Clark, appeared in 2013.
Spaces, a live album consisting of field recordings of Frahm’s performances over the course of two years, appeared toward the end of 2013, and was his most acclaimed recording to date, receiving high praise from numerous publications. His 2015 album Solo was initially released for free on March 29, a day Frahm declared to be “World Piano Day.” He composed his first film score for the German single-take film Victoria in 2015. Later that year, Frahm produced an eclectic mix as part of the Late Night Tales mix CD series. In early 2016, he revisited his Screws album with Screws Reworked, a selection of remixes from fans and fellow musicians handpicked by Frahm himself. During that year, R&S released two albums by Nonkeen, an experimental trio consisting of Frahm and childhood friends Frederic Gmeiner and Sepp Singwald. Also in 2016, he released collaborations with Ólafur Arnalds (Trance Frendz), F.S. Blumm (Tag Eins Tag Zwei), and Woodkid (Ellis [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]).
After spending two years building a studio in Berlin, Frahm returned with the ambitious solo album All Melody in 2018, followed by a world tour. A series of Encores EPs, meant as companions to All Melody, were released individually and compiled as All Encores in 2019. Empty, an album of solo upright piano music originally recorded as the soundtrack to a short film in 2012, was released on World Piano Day in 2020. Later in the year, the composer issued Tripping with Nils Frahm, a recording of a concert at Funkhaus Berlin that kicked off the tour supporting All Melody. In 2021, Frahm released Graz, a debut album recorded for Erased Tapes that was postponed after the release of Felt. Frahm’s own Leiter Verlag issued 2X1=4, a dub-inspired collaboration with Blumm, and Old Friends New Friends, a collection of mostly unreleased solo piano pieces recorded between 2009 and 2021. In 2022, Frahm reissued Streichelfisch and Electric Piano for the first time. He also released Durton, containing tracks from My First EP as well as several previously unissued compositions. He then released Music for Animals, a three-hour set of lengthy synthesizer compositions inspired by Erik Satie’s concept of “furniture music.” ~ Paul Simpson