This wonderful thirty-minute album from pianist Nils Frahm was originally intended as a Christmas present for his friends and family, but as a marker of just how commercialised Christmas has become it’s again being sold for cashmoney, this time on the Erased Tapes imprint. And that’s excellent news for all concerned. As thoughtful as it would be to distribute this exclusively as a gift amongst his loved ones, the world is a (slightly) better place for this album’s wider availability. Frahm’s piano playing is in a similar mold to Gonzales’ Solo Piano, also inevitably bringing to mind the likes of Peter Broderick and Max Richter. With the inclusion of some tastefully deployed celeste and reed organ you might also find yourself thinking of Yann Tiersen soundtracks or Hauschka’s chiming piano preparations, but looking beyond merely making aesthetic comparisons and you’ll find an enormously impressive compositional quality at the root of Frahm’s music.
There are just three pieces here, but each one is underpinned by strong themes and a style of writing that far transcends the often too-pastoral-for-its-own good genre. While shorter compositions ‘Ambre’ and ‘Nue’ are comparatively concise and florid (with the former of the two exhibiting something approaching a modern classical version of pop hooks) the album’s centre-piece, ‘Tristana’ is a more contemplative outing, entrenched in rich atmospherics and the haunting timbres of the celeste. This is an achingly beautiful album from Frahm – enough so to have you craving Christmas in the middle of July. Very highly recommended.