Review | Nils Frahm – All Memory

All Melody, the latest record from Nils Frahm,  is minimalist neo-classical perfection that deserves an attentive listen from start-to-finish. This auditory experience was recorded at his new studio within the famous Cold War-era Funkhaus studio in Berlin, formerly a hub of the East Berlin broadcasting industry after World War II. The album captures the essence of the Bauhaus style featured so prominently in the aesthetic of this famous recording studio.

It begins with “The Whole Universe Wants to Be Touched” which possesses choral elements hinting at the divine. It reminds me that humanity deep down yearns for light. In all the perceived connectivity via social media, there is more division than ever before. Similarly, in the elegiac piece, “Human Range,” humanity cries out to the heavens while glitchy, post-techno beats propel itself forward. I am partial to the chamber ensemble featured in “A Place,” which provides expanse and depth to the arrangement.

“Sunson,” “All Melody,” and “#2” are stand outs in the album. They pulse and syncopate with modular machines on prominent display. “Sunson” drives forward in a manner akin to the cyclical 24-hour news cycle until abruptly it all crescendos and hits a wall of silence. “#2” is modern and sleek, reminiscent of the music of Deadmau5 or Ulrich Schnauss.

My standout favorites of the album, “My Friend the Forest” and “Forever Changeless” feature sparse, languishing piano. It is the soundtrack to a blissful memory. The familiar sound of the fingers striking the piano keys and the breath of the instrumentalist are permitted. It is human.

Three fourths of the way through the album, “Momentum” breaks up the pace. The ominous and foreboding tones haunt me as I listen. It transitions seamlessly to “Fundamental Values,” a piece which stirs to the sounds of a lone trumpet. It breathes with stunning piano phrases over a droning synth pad.

“Kaleidoscope” is the climactic resolution of the album: embracing arpeggiation, comparable to a modern-era rendition of a Baroque fugue. All Melody concludes with “Harm Hymn” a sublime resolution to the album. This album is what I have been yearning for, it comes at no better a time in recent music history.