Having already released a surprise free album to celebrate the inaugural Piano Day and provided the soundtrack to one-take film Victoria this year, German classical-electronic composer Nils Frahm continues his prolific streak by becoming the latest contributor to the long-running Late Night Tales.
Now in its 14th year, the series which invites artists to showcase their own personal pet sounds isn’t a stranger to Frahm’s music, with both Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins and indie-disco trio Friendly Fires selecting compositions from the 32-year-old for their respective compilations.
However, the third Late Night Tales instalment of 2015 is the first time that Nils Frahm has served as curator. And although the obligatory cover, a ‘rendition’ of John Cage’s famously silent piece, “4:33,” initially suggests that the multi-instrumentalist was content to do the bare minimum, the rest of the 24-track collection proves he took the role very seriously.
Indeed, despite the sheer apparent randomness of the selections – which range from the muted tribal rhythms of the Baka Forest People of Southern Cameroon to the squalling saxophone of Arcade Fire’s Colin Stetson – the album arguably flows better than any of its predecessors, while Frahm’s decision to subtly tamper with the source material ensures that his presence is felt throughout.
Of course, anyone familiar with Frahm’s work won’t be surprised to see the likes of IDM stalwarts Boards of Canada, Bibio and Four Tet rubbing shoulders with jazz legend Miles Davis, bandleader Victor Silvester and pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
But there are still several curveballs, too, whether it’s Nina Simone’s stunning live performance of Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” or singing cowboy Gene Autry’s “You’re The Only Star,” while relatively obscure names such as Finnish duo The Gentleman Losers, one-time labelmates Dictaphone and turn-of-the-century dub techno label Rhythm and Sound all receive some well-deserved exposure.
Perfectly drawn to a close with a spoken word piece from Hollywood actor Cillian Murphy, Nils Frahm’s musical treasure trove might just be one of the finest in Late Night Tales history.
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